Why The Invention of Online Grades was Frustrating in High School

By: Brad Manock

         reportcard   Most of the people reading will probably remember “report card day.” This was a very tense day where you would go home and your parents would have the report card in their hands, you would sit down nervously as the grades were discussed. If they were good grades it was fine, but if they were bad grades you would have to offer some kind of explanation as to why the grades were so low. Your parents would then make changes in your life depending on what you said in the hope of fixing the problem. However in high school “online grades” became used at my school. In this article I will discuss these online grades and how it felt like report card day every day.

 

Time for an Intervention

            Getting bad grades was treated as if I was a violent alcoholic, with an intervention. I would have to sit in a circle, perhaps around a table to discuss my grades. The way I saw it, and still do see it, is that if I pass the class it is good enough. I got a couple of “C” grades in college and my diploma still looks the same.

            I would be asked up front, “what could we change to make you care about school more?” A few times I was offered money for good grades, $10 per “A” or something similar. From the perspective of my parents, school was my only job and I had a very low stress life. However I’ve found that the biggest source of stress in life is other people and their expectations they have of you. School was full of other people, most of them very disrespectful, and it was a very stressful environment. Grades 6-10 have made the rest of my life seem like it is easy. Offering $10 per “A” would be like firing a bb gun at a tank. Sure, it would be nice to get some money for good grades, but I would not have thought about the money at all while actually sitting down to study and take tests. This also caused me to lose some respect among my class mates when they heard about this saying that I was such a spoiled white rich kid. I wasn’t actually that rich.

            There were parts of these conversations that both my parents and I were correct about. My parents would tell me that the people I went to school with wouldn’t matter as soon as I graduated, this was correct. I would tell my parents that grades were not really that important in the long run as long as you passed the classes and graduated, this has also been correct so far. My parents would say “but Brad when you are in a job interview you will be asked for a transcript.” So far I’ve never been asked for a transcript of my grades but if they ever do, they probably don’t like me anyways and are just fishing for an excuse not to hire me. They always have to have an excuse to not hire someone, they can never just say “meh, we think you seem like kind of a douche bag” although I would probably prefer honest feedback. If the people in a workplace doesn’t like me, I don’t want to work there anyways.

 

Do You Know What You Got on Your Test?

            Online grades created a new step in the grading process, the teachers would enter the grades into the online system, and the parents would have log in information to the system to see their child’s grades. When online grades became a thing, that is when things became extremely stressful. Now instead of analyzing every grade from every class, every grade of every assignment or test of every class was scrutinized. Usually what would happen when I would take a test or hand in an assignment is that: I would turn it in, it would be graded, and I would get it back.

My parents would ask me how I did on my assignments and how my grades were doing. I usually would say “I haven’t gotten the test back yet” because they would ask the evening immediately after I took the test. However with online grades, my parents would know my grades BEFORE me. The grades would be entered into the online system, and the papers would be placed in a pile to hand back to the students. This created a window of time for every assignment where my parents could look at the grade and I would have no idea what I got. The greatest fear humans have is the unknown, this is a good example of that. The only thing more stressful than worrying, is not knowing if and when to worry. If I took a test that I did not feel confident about, I would worry about it even if I ended up getting a good grade on that particular test. Other times there would be tests I felt good about and ended up getting a low grade, these would cause unexpected confrontations about my grades.

 

No Excuses!

            Occasionally when I would be asked why I had such a bad grade I would have a reason. The reason would then be torn apart by calling my lazy or unmotivated. This caused some unnecessary tension to form. The online system was being used by teachers, most of which were technologically illiterate, and it was kind of a shitty system to begin with. For example if an assignment had been entered but the specific grades hadn’t been entered yet, the program would factor that in as a “zero” which would heavily drag down the average. This caused my mom to see “Fs” constantly when looking at my grades for each class. None of the assignments would be an “F” but the un-entered grades took large chunks out of the average. This caused some panicked and confused conversations. “Why are you getting an F in science” “I haven’t gotten an F on a single assignment in science.” Since my family was also technologically illiterate it was difficult to explain the flaw in the system in a way that they would understand.

            Eventually each teacher would have to tell the kids in each class that there was a flaw in the system and to tell their parents to chill out because their real grades are doing fine. I thought “don’t tell me, tell my family” if the information came from me it would have been perceived as a lie or that I didn’t actually understand the situation as well as I thought I did.

I was always an “A” and “B” student but those occasional “Cs” and “Ds” would cause a lot of stress, not because I cared that much, but because I knew everything would be scrutinized. I am very glad that I am done with high school and college now, there is much less to be judged about now.

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