Stuyvesant Introduces a New School-Wide Grading Policy

Principal Yu enacts new grading policy based on numerical grades and one point curve across all marking periods.

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By Jaden Bae

Beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, Principal Seung Yu introduced a new grading policy: first marking period grades will be expressed numerically and not through letter grades, and the conventional system of rounding for grades below ninety has been replaced by a more exact numerical grade.

Traditionally, first marking period grades were distributed via a letter-based system, with E corresponding to a grade between 90 to 100 percent, S corresponding to a grade between 75 to 89 percent, N corresponding to a grade between 65 to 74 percent, and U corresponding to a grade below 65 percent. Additionally, prior to this school year, grades were rounded in increments of five until the grade reached 85 percent. If the grade was 85 percent or higher, the grade could be rounded to 85 percent, 88 percent, or 90 percent. If grades were 90 percent or higher, they were rounded in increments of one. As a result of this policy update, however, all subject averages above 65 percent will be rounded in increments of one percent for all marking periods.

Principal Yu implemented the new policy to offer more synchronization between report card grades and online grades and prevent misinterpretations. “[Previously] there were questions of accuracy[,] meaning the letter grade and the numerical range it represented did not always align with what was available in [Jupiter Ed] in regards to understanding [students’] progress in class,” Principal Yu said in an e-mail interview. “We wanted to provide more clarity by aligning what students and families see in the online gradebook with report cards [and their] transcript.”

The new update had been discussed for a long time prior to this school year. “This adjustment to how we record grades has been an ongoing topic of discussion and conversation for the past three years,” Principal Yu said. “There have been certain ways in which the school has traditionally operated, such as the reporting of grades that needed to be re-examined and adjusted, particularly with the changes that have resulted from factors such as the pandemic, academic policy, and college admissions.”

Regarding the new update, seniors express concern about the elimination of the letter grading system and its implication for senior transcripts on college applications. “I need time to adjust because [students] got used to the mindset of having the first marking period be a buffer period,” senior Joanna Meng said. “The college office has informed us seniors that it’s pretty likely that some colleges are going to look at our first marking grades and we are not used to [first marking period grades being numerical].”

Other seniors agreed with this sentiment, particularly given the impact that more rigorous classes may have on their transcripts. “[Numerical grades] will be detrimental because I’m going to struggle in a lot of classes [...] especially since I have three APs,” senior Huilin Tang said. “It is very troublesome [especially] with the added stress of college apps.” 

Meanwhile, some students do not feel impacted by the update on first marking period grades. “As of now, it doesn’t have much of an effect on me personally,” senior Lala Liu said. “Though the buffer for the marking period one is nice if you are struggling with something during the beginning of the school year, it doesn’t have much of an effect if you put in effort starting at the beginning of the school year.”

Furthermore, some students believe that the lack of rounding curves may be harmful. “[Early in the semester] there’s not a high enough sample size of assignments and assessments. I think rounding before could help people struggling,” senior Ryan Peng said. “If [a student] has a 78 [they could potentially] get a few more points [and] bring up their average.”

Though the traditional curve system proved to be a beneficial way for students to raise their subject averages, there were other instances where the system negatively impacted students due to its use of rounding benchmarks. “Last year, I had an 87.4 [percent] for a class, but instead of getting rounded up to 88 [percent], I got rounded down to an 85 [percent],” Liu said. “It was sad knowing that I could’ve gotten that 88 [percent] if my grade was just 0.1 [percent] higher.”

On the other side, some teachers are satisfied with the changes made to the grading policy, as the numerical grades will provide a more accurate representation of academic progress throughout the semester. “This will allow for greater transparency about student grades and assignments, will be more clear to parents [and] families about their child’s progress, and allow for intervention or support to take place earlier on in the semester,” social studies teacher Svetlana Firdman said in an e-mail interview. 

The administration has worked to address some of the concerns that stemmed from the change in grading policy. “We have communicated to colleges that the senior year transcripts will be viewed from ninth grade to 12th grade under one grading policy and any mid-year reports that are coming from this current system will be reflecting the new policy,” Assistant Principal of Personnel Services Casey Pedrick said. “As long as we communicate to the colleges that our grading system has changed, [colleges] will understand and go with it, so there’s no need to stress if you’re a current senior worrying about how the colleges will take the new grading system.”

Overall, the policy was designed to not have a tremendous impact on students and teachers. “The goal is that this adjustment has minimal impact on students and teachers,”  Principal Yu said. “We checked in with the College Office to determine if there were negative implications and it does not appear so.”