Traverse City Record-Eagle

November 2, 2010

Grades: Letters, GPA take precedence over learning

By BRIAN JURGESS
Special to the Record-Eagle

---- — It's nearing the end of the marking period. You have a B+ in a class and are begging a teacher to give you some extra credit assignments to bring your grade up. Your grade point average (GPA) is currently sitting at a 3.9 and that B+ will bring it down. If you have a B+ in any class, there is no chance of getting valedictorian.

This situation is precisely the problem with the current education system. Rather than students focusing on learning the material, they are focused on grades. Teachers want students to learn the material, but our society places such an importance on grades. Students end up losing sight of why they go to school.

The problem stems from our education system and how we are brought up. Early in a student's school career, he or she is focused on learning because there aren't grades. But, as soon as the schools start adding grades into the system, everything changes. The students become more focused on achieving the grades rather than learning the material. While the intent may be good, the results are the opposite of what is expected. Students will only memorize enough of the material to get the grade they want, then forget it.

Colleges play a major role in the problem. Getting into college is more competitive than ever. Universities place more of an importance on letters and numbers than they do on the students themselves. Thus, a student feels more obligated to get good grades than they are to take challenging courses and learn.

Finally, students who get poor grades tend to feel like they aren't as intelligent as their higher achieving peers. As a result, they may stop trying, or feel worse about themselves when compared to their peers. Once these students stop strying, allt hat potential will be lost, all because of a letter or number.

The current education system needs to be reevaluated. We as a society need to come up with another way to educate students that doesn't place a letter on learning. If we do not, students will just continue to care less about learning.

Brian Jurgess is a senior at Kingsley High School.