Keep it Open, Keep it Known

Do grades stress students out? Yes, most definitely. Will they be less stressed when prohibited from checking grades? Not necessarily.

Portola High has finally gotten to a point where students are applying to college: a process in which grades play a vital role.

According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, “a student’s high school grade-point average is consistently a better predictor than test scores of a student’s likely performance in college.”

This leads many students to check their grades on a daily basis to keep track of their in-class performance.

The gradebook is an open and impartial means of communication for teachers and students, and therefore it must remain transparent over break. Grades are a clear-cut way for teachers to report and for students to receive tangible evaluations.

“It’s true that talking to your teachers gives you good advice, but it doesn’t do what percentage grades do,” junior Naomi Luper said. “It doesn’t give you that concrete grasp of where you are and how you’re actually doing on an objective scale.”

The most stressful scenario is when you really don’t know. It’s the uncertainty that makes us anxious.”

— Robb Rutledge

Blacking out grades prevents students from tracking their progress in class. The logic behind hiding the gradebook is that it will turn students away from obsessively thinking about their grades. However, reality speaks differently.

“I think I’d be even more stressed out not knowing my grade,” Luper said. “I’d be constantly trying to calculate what I have in the class based on test scores and project scores.”

Since blacking out grades is not a school-wide policy, students will still have access to some parts of the gradebook. While grades from departments that implemented the policy will not be available, other subjects will still be visible. 

“I think if we want to do something like this, it should be a school-wide policy,” counselor Melissa Gibson said. “If one department blacks out grades and another doesn’t, students are still going to be checking their grades in other subjects over the break.”

It is not likely that blacking out grades will reduce stress. Based on a study from University College London, “people are most stressed when they are more uncertain.” Study lead and neuroscience specialist Robb Rutledge stated that “the most stressful scenario is when you really don’t know. It’s the uncertainty that makes us anxious.”

Considering that the fundament of the gradebook is open communication, students’ access to their grades should not be limited. Blacking out grades does not reduce stress levels nor protect students’ rights to know; therefore the gradebook must remain transparent at all times.