Students adjusting to new system
> NASHUA – At the start of the 2015-16 school year, New Hampshire schools began moving to a competency grading system rather than the traditional one.
Competency-style grading is meant to improve the learning process.
Previously, grades were split into different categories such as homework, classwork, tests and papers, and if students found themselves struggling in the homework portion of the class, they could make up for it in the test section.
Grades are now broken up into different sections based on the subject.
For example, math is broken up into communication, representation and solving. When students take a test, they will receive three grades now instead of just one. If a student passes in communication and representation but fails in solving, he or she is required to make the exam up, although only in the areas involving solving.
Each time students fail a category, required to create something known as an "in course recovery plan" with their teacher. This allows for the student to come up with different ideas on how to study and further understand the material. After they complete their plan, they retake the parts of the exam that they initially struggled with.
Something that students find frustrating is that they never know what their average or grade is during the semester.
"In theory, this grading system is a good idea because it gets kids to actually learn the material," Grady said. "But if you’re a lazy student, then chances are you probably won’t study the first time because you can always just make it up."
An apparent concern is what colleges will see when students have to send in their first-quarter grades.
"Seniors especially have been really nervous," senior Katherine Diamond said. "We weren’t sure what grades would be sent or how they would appear."
North guidance counselors sent a cover letter along with students’ grades that explained the new system to colleges.
Colleges are accommodating to the new system.
University of New Hampshire admissions representative Robert McGann explained that their admissions team works with high schools in order to fully understand their grading systems.
"School counselors are good partners in this process – they share information and respond to questions about their students and schools," McGann said.
Although some do not fully agree with the new grading system, they find that it does make sense in the long run.
"It’s just frustrating it began our senior year," Grady said.
At the beginning of the school year, students and faculty were having a hard time getting used to the new system, but Principal Marianne Busteed was accommodating.
"She was very open to all concerns," Diamond said. "She held meetings during E-Block with students to try to further explain it."
Students are working toward further understanding the new system as it plays a large role in the time they have left at Nashua North.