El Estoque

Out of focus

Mallika Singh

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ll through high school, whether it is to review homework assignments or check for grade updates, checking School Loop has become second nature. Infinite Campus, however, is checked far less frequently. Generally, students will check Infinite Campus when transcripts are updated with progress reports or final semester grades.
For progress reports, what students see on School Loop matches what is posted on Infinite Campus. Unfortunately, that is not the case when official transcripts are released.

Though the letter grades are the same between School Loop and Infinite Campus, a potentially critical component is missing. Although on School Loop, grades show up as “B+” or “A-,” on Infinite Campus, the “+” and “-” are removed, per the Fremont Union High School District Board policy.

Students and teachers have different ideas about whether or not they want to have pluses and minuses on official transcripts. Senior Nachiket Subbaraman feels that using pluses and minuses gives a more representative idea of how a student performed in the class. According to him, the pluses and minuses are important, because they highlight the difference in work between someone with an 80 percent and someone with an 89 percent.

Screen Shot 2018-02-01 at 2.02.03 PM“Many of my classes, I felt like I was close enough to the A level where it would be disappointing if the teacher didn’t round me,” Subbaraman said. “If the pluses and minuses were included, that feeling would completely go away because it’s a more accurate representation of what I actually did in the class.”

For some teachers, like English teacher David Clarke, there is an important distinction between an A+ and an A-. He believes that the grade in the class should reflect that important difference.

Clarke also feels that the grades on Infinite Campus don’t give an honest portrayal of how students are actually doing. He explains that the fundamental idea comes down to how representative our semester grades are.

“Removing the pluses and minuses really creates an unrealistic measure of the performance of our students,” Clarke said. “We are essentially being dishonest with them about their performance which creates this distortion in terms of their behavior.”

Clarke also explains that it is somewhat unfair to lump the students who have B minuses and the ones who have B pluses into the same category. Subbaraman strongly agrees with this as he has personally dealt with getting stuck in such a broad category. He explained that in his experience, it seems as if no matter how much effort one puts into a class, colleges only see one overarching grade.

However, that is only one side of the argument. With the redaction of pluses and minuses, both high and low borderline grades are combined to become the same letter grade. With this policy, the only cut off that really matters is the one between letter grades.

For that reason, junior Rhea Karandikar likes the policy of not including pluses and minuses in the gradebook. She feels that the consolidation of grades gives her comfort, since she knows her non-borderline grades won’t go down, allowing her to focus on the classes where it might improve.

“It definitely makes it easier, because I don’t have to study for tests or for finals that won’t change my grade,” Karandikar said. “If we did have pluses and minuses, then you’d have to worry about [your grade] going down to a minus, which would negatively affect your GPA.”

Karandikar does acknowledge Subbaraman’s and Clarke’s points — the lack of pluses and minuses can be detrimental to borderline grades — but ultimately feels the reduction in stress outweighs the negatives.

Similarly, Subbaraman also feels that adding in pluses and minuses would increase stress, as instead of striving for a 90 percent, students would start to only look towards an A+. According to Subbaraman, creating more boundaries and therefore more grades would only increase the pressure to get an A+ instead of an A-.

While there are clear advantages to both sides of the argument, Clarke’s takeaway is simple — we need to be more honest, not just with our grades but with ourselves as well.

“This is the way it is in college,” Clarke said. “I would rather think honestly about dealing with [the way we grade] than simply ignoring it and creating a system that is fundamentally dishonest.”