Fixating on grade updates defeats the purpose of online portals

Students’ potential for success should not be measured through numerical deductions

Flora Peng

Weeks after the conclusion of the first semester, students are now setting their expectant eyes toward the blessed horizon of summer vacation. Their hopes are high for a successful semester, prompted by a fresh start to the gradebook and the promise of a week-long break between every grading period.

Except, frustrating hours spent refreshing Schoolloop every 10 minutes and futile inquiries about the efficiency of a teacher’s grading process still lurk in the periphery. What we often fail to realize is that the urgency with which we work for the “perfect” GPA is thoroughly a self-perpetuated problem because we are stuck in a stagnant mindset.

Rather than using our online grade portal as a mechanism for achieving educational success, we abuse the privilege of having constant access to the minute details of our grades and thus limit our capacity for improvement. In essence, we hyper-fixate on the perceived implication that a lower percentage is solely indicative of our incompetence instead of viewing it as an honest critique of our work and a greater opportunity to implement specific steps toward achievement.

By minimizing the frequency with which we view our grades, we learn to accept them as a true measure of our academic progress. For example, if we committed to checking Schoolloop every two weeks, we would leave ourselves enough time to make up a missed assignment, submit test corrections or even have a conversation with the teacher about the reasoning behind deducted points before seeing the impact on our overall grade. Then, the focus would primarily be on the cause of any issues in order to emphasize learning — not point accumulation.

According to an article by The New York Times, “Digital grade portals were designed to improve home-school communication by allowing students and parents to monitor grades and attendance throughout the year,” giving parents the opportunity to facilitate support for their child as necessary. But when students and parents take the surveillance to the extreme, the effects devalue positive student-teacher and student-parent relationships, student engagement and long-term motivation.

While we may feel the need to check Schoolloop to ensure that we are aware of where we are in the class and have an accurate understanding of our capabilities, chances are the assignments being updated regularly are elements of homework and participation. In the larger scheme of how percentages average out, it may be beneficial for us to see the exact impact of those points and then consider whether it would be more productive to invest time and energy into nonessential points or studying better for the next test.

At the same time, we must also communicate with our parents to be united on setting priorities and methods of constructive communication. They might insist on continuing to monitor our grades closely, but we can take responsibility for opening up the discussion toward tracking indications of long-term success, such as an ability to work effectively in a team or to take the initiative to acquire a new skill.

It will take time to shed our cultivated paradigms regarding our perception of grade updates, but learning how to respond well to criticism and diminutive distractions is worth the effort because that’s what will matter in the long run.