Mason students adjust to a new year-long grading system

Emma Roncoroni, Staff Reporter

Picture of front entrance hall
Along with a new building and classrooms drastically changed by COVID-19, students are getting used to a new grading system—year-long grades. (Photo by Charlie Adams)

GMHS has switched to a year-long grading system for the 2020-2021 school year. In previous years, course grades have been calculated by semester, but this new system aligns our district closer to the International Baccalaureate Program, which is focused more on measuring overall student growth. 

Students’ grades from previous years still show up as semester grades on transcripts, and semester-based classes, like TOK, are still shown as semesters, but any classes offered as year-long classes will only show a Y1 grade on transcripts. Grades are determined on a course-by-course basis, so a year-long grade will be given for each individual class.

Students have varied opinions on the grading system transition.

“I personally like the change,” sophomore Jack Toole said. “It gives me a lot more time to get my grades up before the end of the year.”

The final course grade is cumulative, so students don’t need to stress as much at the end of every quarter and can instead focus on completing assignments in correlation with the material as a whole, not just to meet the quarterly or semesterly deadlines.

“I also like how one bad grade would not have too strong of an effect on my overall grade. I am also glad that each of your quarter grades are worth around a 25% of your overall grade so it is relatively easy to determine what your overall grade is,” Toole said.

In addition to being more predictable, the year-long grading system aligns closer with the IB curriculum and standards based grading, which focuses more on progression and growth throughout the school year. 

“I really like the philosophy of the year long grades, it gives students time to improve and actually learn, and it makes more sense for the IB curriculum,” senior CC Meade said. “I actually really didn’t like standards based grades before, but with this new system, it actually makes sense and works.”

While there are several benefits that year-long grading brings, not everything about this transition was perfect.

“Choosing to do it this year, a huge change in the midst of something so unfamiliar, may not have been the best choice. The communication was kind of lacking and it actually didn’t make sense for seniors at all,” Meade said.

In the virtual setting, strong communication has been vital to student’s learning and success. The new year-long grading system is something that the students feel deserved more clarity and attention, and possibly should have been done at a time when everything is not so uncertain and unpredictable. 

“But, in the long run, this will be really good for students and for the culture at Mason,” Meade said. “Oftentimes, we base our self-worth [and] value in our grades for school. This system shift is definitely going to help that.”