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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

Why WIS Should Adopt an Open Grade Book System


The anticipation. The long wait. The surprise. This is the story of many students at our school when it comes to grades and the way in which the administration handles them. We should adopt an open grade book to improve the lives of students by creating transparency about academic progress and attendance, two things that seem to be out of reach under the current closed grade book.

Students can only view their grades two times per semester: at progress reports and at report cards. At progress reports teachers give commentary about the progression of each student including their strengths and weaknesses, but also how they contribute as a classmate and how they can continue to improve throughout the semester. Though, at report cards students receive a number grade from 1 to 7 in each class, but no observations on their work ethic or participation and no comments on their development during the year.

This is an inefficient system because students and parents are left with little information about their progress in school aside from the four times a year when grades are released which in reality is only two. Unless they find the time to meet with a teacher or ask the Dean of Students Ms. Eaton, grades and performance in a particular class are unavailable making daily improvement a challenge.

This period of waiting creates mystery because once results are released, students have no idea what played a role in their grade and therefore find it very difficult to figure out which aspects to improve upon. Also, many believe they are doing well in a particular class only to be surprised by their actual grade since they have no way of knowing how they are performing until their grades come out quarterly.

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Tests, quizzes and projects along with other assignments do shed light on the general accomplishments of students, but don’t always reflect the actual grade that will be given at progress reports and report cards.

In contrast, an open grade book would allow students to track their progress in every class at any time throughout the year. Also, students and parents would have a more open way to track their academic progression along with attendance. This would make the dreaded conversation about school much less difficult because parents would be able to see the way in which their child’s grades were formulated along with the commentary from teachers which would add proper context to the discussion.

Even if a student gets a bad grade or feels as if they could do better, the ability to physically see how they are doing every day is key to development both as a person and a student since it makes improvement seem attainable. The current system fails to show students the impact of their individual assignments except for when they publish grades which makes academic growth much harder.

Also, students are unable to view their tardies and absences until progress reports and report cards come out. WIS instituted a program this year which requires students to attend an hour-long detention if they accumulate five unexcused tardies in one month. While this system works to hold students accountable and punctual, the fact that attendance can only be viewed four times a year hinders their ability to keep track of how many times they are late and can result in an unexpected detention.

Unlike WIS, public schools and even many private schools in the DC area such as St. John’s College High School and Wilson High School use online applications which show student’s daily GPA including every test, project and graded homework affects their grades. This software also allows for students to view how their summative and formative assignments add up to their grade in a particular class and can even monitor their attendance on a daily basis.

Studies have shown that there is a correlation between online grade books and improved student success due to the fact that there is a stronger line of communication between teachers and students and therefore a stronger relationship between students and parents.

While many experts, students, and parents believe this would promote competition and micromanaging among students, the ability to monitor grades and attendance daily would allow for greater understanding of one’s performance in class and prevent many unnecessary detentions. An open grade book system would create transparency between families and the school and make it easier to both improve academically and work to develop punctual habits that will last a lifetime.

Anders Westermann

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