Students have been demanding a need for a uniform grading system for all subjects, especially English, especially those in upper grades, gradually realize the issue that different teachers of the same course have different expectations for the classes. In other words, students must be able to meet the teacher’s standards and criterion even if those differ from another teacher that teaches the same class.
Junior Aaron Slipper believes that teachers who teach the same subject, should not have much variation in levels of difficulty.
“I don’t think two courses viewed as exactly the same from the outside world ought to be very different in difficulty,” Slipper said.
The administration and academic departments are trying to resolve this issue and find a uniform grading system so that the grading criteria would be the same in all departments.
Principal Phil Winston has acknowledged these issues such as grading and class difficulty before and plans to resolve them in the near future.
“I have plans with discussing this issue with the the Ed. council [education council], and eventually hold a staff meeting,” Principal Winston said.
Junior Aaron Slipper shares the same thoughts as Winston. However, he believes the grading in certain departments is very straightforward so these departments may not need a uniform grading system for teachers to follow. In other words, some classes, such as math, is very direct and do not require much elaboration and guidelines such as those in English.
“In a class which demands already very uniform requirements for work – such as math classes – there is not much need for teacher discussions about difficulty,” Slipper said. “Having taken Analysis, I can say that I know that there are cases where teacher discussion about difficulty is both helpful. But it is in reality quite common, too. I always heard from teachers about discussions they had had with other teachers in all subjects, not just math.”
Although Slipper believes that subjects such as math do not need a uniform grading system for teachers to follow, he does believe that the English department should consider implementing some sort of system merely because the grading of English essays is inherently subjective.
“I feel like the most diverse levels of difficulty can be found in English classes, where the grading is most subjective,” Slipper said.
Instructional Supervisor of the English Department Shirley Tokheim also shares Winston’s thoughts of this recurring issue and has organized meetings with the English teachers to improve the grading system in order to increase uniformity among classes for equal levels of difficulty in each course.
“In the English Department, we have spent a great deal of time aligning courses within each grade level,” Tokheim said. “Every student in tenth grade reads the same core texts, for example, and writes a certain number of essays, even though teachers might have different—equally valuable—ways of teaching those texts.”
Tokheim believes that the English teachers are becoming more aligned through the time they spend collaborating with one another. Teachers who teach the same class often share essays with each other to calibrate their grading. However, she still believes that there is room for improvement so there is less variation in level of difficulty or in number of essays assigned.
“During collaboration, we talk about it [uniform grading system],” Tokheim said. “This has been a big part of our work this year, but it is still a process. We’re working on it. Teachers are more aligned than students often realize.”
Slipper agrees with Tokheim regarding how teachers should communicate with other teachers to ensure they are teaching the same material and grading with a similar criteria.
“The only way to really get close to a solution to such a sensitive and difficult issue is through inter-teacher communication,”Slipper said.
Tokheim believes that the English teachers’ system of working together to ensure similar levels of difficulty among classes is doing better than it has before, but it still has areas that they can improve upon.
The Paly administration and academic departments acknowledge the need for a uniform grading system within each department. However, they believe that holding more staff meetings to discuss this issue further will help improve the grading systems. Paly staff members hope to improve the issue of non-uniform grading among classes in the near future.