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Mastery grading questioned

Julia Clark, grade 12

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Dear Editor,

I would like to offer an additional perspective on the issues central to a recent article “Defending Mastery Grading,” Oct. 20. While I can agree with many of the points addressed, like the improvement of study habits for me personally, the article and related piece, “Critics seek mastery grading redo,” failed to highlight many of the problems with the new system.
The real issue with mastery grading, in my opinion, is the “Low Score” 50 percent minimum grade. In the same way that led county officials to criticize completion grades in classwork under the old policy, LS inflates student grades without actually reflecting their knowledge of subject material. As a result, it’s easier now for students to pass classes despite not learning much of anything.
Additionally, there are the problems of the removal of mandatory attendance, failure by teachers to uphold the redo policy and dependence of quarterly grades on far fewer assignments.
The mastery grading policy, as a whole, seems a lot like change for the sake of change. Our grades are, according to the latest policy modification, one-third assessments and what amounts to two-thirds classwork and homework, eerily similar to the old policy of thirty percent assessments and the remainder classwork and homework. In addition, many teachers have simply given up on trying to keep pace with the County’s numerous attempts to alter the policy in response to complaints from the community.
A general lack of effective communication has left almost everyone out of touch with the policy’s original goal to improve classroom learning. The duo of messy implementation and inherent flaws of mastery grading have created a huge debate that’s been a distraction from bigger problems like the quality of our school buildings, the gross underpayment of teachers and the general importance of GPA over actual acquisition of knowledge. To ignore the faults of the new policy based on a single student’s perspective is irresponsible and inaccurate.

Julia Clark

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