Opinion

Opinion: Responsibility of grades falls on students, not teachers — even in a pandemic

By ERICA BAUER

Despite the Redlands Unified School Board’s decision to freeze grades as of April 19, as distance learning continues, one thing is on student’s and teacher’s minds alike: grading. With a widespread pandemic taking the world by storm, most outside of the educational system are shocked to hear this, but yes, grading is one of the most stressful topics for staff, students, and parents. 

Unfortunately, as more and more work is assigned, both teachers and students often times fall behind. This brings even more stress into their daily lives on top of the chaos that is the early 2020’s. For teachers, grading has become a nightmare. With software not functioning properly, and having a certain curriculum they must follow, teachers are learning to adjust to the struggles of distance learning. As a result, students find themselves working day in and day out with little motivation. This is causing work to be rushed and inevitably pushed to the side, only adding to the workload. Grading and due dates during this period of distance learning is a huge trial for all involved.

“I wouldn’t say grading is more difficult necessarily, but rather more time-consuming,” said Danielle Persing Biology teacher at Redlands East Valley High School, “Significantly more time-consuming.”

“Instead of a stack of papers that I can easily shift through and organize, we have different tabs and links that we click through,” said Persing. “When you have 100+ assignments to grade, it takes time; and usually, the internet has other plans and takes a minute or so to even open a new tab or an assignment, making it take even longer.”

With distance learning continuing with no end in sight, many students find themselves in an endless sea of questions, “When will my work be graded?’’ ‘‘What will my grades be?’’, ‘‘Will my teacher be as understanding of my extenuating circumstances as they would in person?,” ‘‘ Will I be swarmed with homework on top of the extracurricular activities I already  have going on?” “ How am I supposed to finish all of this by Friday?” 

With all of these thoughts going through a student’s head, oftentimes there is a hidden variable that those involved tend to subconsciously ignore, the work done by teachers. 

“I want my students to have timely and meaningful feedback, but it’s easier said than done,” said Persing, “There are some assignments I’m able to return to students within a day or so, but then I’m not leaving any feedback for them to improve. So, every now and then I set aside a couple of hours after school to do so, but just like most students, having to stare at a screen takes its toll on you.” 

Their rules, beliefs, and expectations can tend to go far above what is achievable for students during this difficult time. Teachers have to grade all that they assign, and when they do not maintain consistency in their grading, it creates a tremendous amount of work they have to complete by the quarter’s end.

“I’m also constantly thinking of and planning ways to make DL more interesting and engaging to keep up student motivation,” said Persing, “so time must be set aside for that as well. It’s a balance that’s difficult to find.” 

The question left wondering is, “Who’s responsible for all the stress and anxiety surrounding grading?” Teachers… right? Contrary to popular belief, I think that responsibility falls on students. Students often go to parents, friends, and even other staff members offering excuses as to why they have missing work and grades that stray from what they hoped to see on their report cards. Instead of simply being honest with themselves by taking responsibility for their forgetfulness or lack of motivation. With distance learning, parents, siblings, friends, and all of the other chaos that happens in a student’s life- school can sometimes be left out of the equation. However, students also often procrastinate, forget, and simply just get tired of all the work. 

Yet this still leaves us with the question, “Who is to be held responsible for the stress of grading and school?” The impossible question can not be answered with a single person or people, but a simple truth. With the world on lockdown and going a million miles per hour, all need to try their best to be understanding of one another’s circumstances. Students are expected to turn in their assignments on time, and to the best of their ability. While teachers should be held accountable for grading the work they assign in a timely manner- the best they can. Distance learning can be extremely difficult for anyone, but everyone must work together to make things the best they can be. 

Categories: Opinion

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