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New DRHS Grading System Helps Students Succeed

Kaylee Walls
Teachers, mainly those who teach underclassmen, see a general increase in grades as the semester progresses.

When the school year began in 2023, Dakota Ridge changed the grading scale. Now that the end of the first semester nears, there is data to show how this new grading scale has affected students.

Complaints about low grades and changes that weren’t popular filled the hallways for the first month of the semester, mainly among the higher scoring students. But the misinformation floating around gave those changes a bad name. 

According to DRHS principal Kim Keller, the 80/20 grading isn’t new, in fact, it’s been around for about 15 years. What is new is the way things are graded. Assignments can’t be scored as a zero percent anymore; the lowest score a student will receive is a 50%. While students think positively of that, 50% is still an F, and several Fs add up fast. AP and IB students have complained, too, but what’s interesting is the school didn’t adjust those programs grading scales. The AP classes still follow the AP guidelines, and the IB grading scale, according to science teacher Andrew Gysin, remains up to each teacher’s preference.

However, now that a few months have passed, much of the chatter and complaints have faded. Many students are aware of the D and F list, mainly because it informs their guardians if they are failing any classes. On September 28th, 2023, there were a total of 449 Fs in the school. But by October 27th, there were a mere 315 Fs, according to Keller.

“I’ve heard a lot from kids that at first, they questioned it, and I’ve had a lot of kids come talk to me,” Keller said. “Once I started to explain things they were like: Oh…okay!”

While many teachers are seeing changes in their classrooms, some aren’t. According to math teacher Steven Anderson, the underclassmen better demonstrate a shift from beginning to end of the semester, in which the students had a low grade at first, but gradually increased. But according to some upperclassmen teachers, like social studies teacher Peter Dunda, there wasn’t much of an increase in the grades.

“I didn’t see that [general increase],” Dunda said. “The main thing I saw was a huge decrease in the amount of students who did homework.”

Dunda explained that because students were doing less homework, they were more inclined to fail tests because they weren’t as prepared; the new policy allows students to retake any test or quiz that isn’t open-note.

The irony of this situation is that in the past, students often didn’t do homework themselves, opting to use the internet or other people to do it, making the homework an unreliable representation of student understanding.  Now that those grades have been dropped in this new grading system, many students aren’t doing it at all.

However, dropping the homework grading wasn’t the only change.

All standard course grade books are now required to have the 80/20 grading scale. (Kaylee Walls)

The D and F list reflects that it is also easier to raise a grade from failing to passing. Keller explained that the As students were getting previously weren’t because they were demonstrating “excellent content understanding,” which is what an A is supposed to represent. According to Keller, there are fewer As now, but there are also over 100 students who no longer have an F.

However, Keller understands the students’ discomfort with the change.

“Change is never easy,” Keller said. “But we’ll get there… it [the new grading system] isn’t going anywhere.”

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About the Contributor
Kaylee Walls, Staff Writer
Kaylee Walls is a sophomore and first year writer for The Cord News. She took reporting due to a recommendation from her Honors English teacher and practically fell in love with the art of it all. An overall honest person, she enjoys digging for the truth and bringing it to the light.

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