Marlborough will experiment with a semi-open grade book in the 2016-2017 school year that will allow students to see their in-progress grades in each course for a 48-hour period in the middle of each quarter. Parents will subsequently have access to their daughters’ grades and will receive a brief communication from each teacher on their children’s performance twice during each quarter instead of at the end of the term.
Assistant Head of School and Head of Upper School Laura Hotchkiss ’86, the chair of the subcommittee of the Educational Council, hopes the new computerized system will replace mailed progress reports and report cards and increase teacher-student communication and transparency about grades.
“We felt that there was some need to look at timeliness, transparency, and that, honestly, when you receive your grade comment one week, two weeks after the quarter’s over, it’s not really that helpful,” Hotchkiss said.
The School’s administration presented the Student Academic Advisory Council with the idea of an open grade book in September, and the committee discussed this possibility among themselves and along with the rest of the student body in class meetings.
One of the S.A.A.C. representatives for the senior class Annie’16 said that while she and other members liked the idea at first, most were ultimately against the switch because of the possibility of an increased emphasis on grades and misunderstanding of where a student stands.
“Most people thought it would actually increase stress and the constant focus on grades. We also think that it’s something that could be kind of misleading because some classes [have] frequent quizzes. [After] one bad quiz, if you went onto the website that night, your grade may appear far lower than it would at the end of the quarter. [It] would induce unnecessary stress,” Annie said.
S.A.A.C. suggested a trial run for the first quarter of next year, in which students could only check their grades at infrequent, designated times to ease reservations. The Educational Council agreed to this compromise and intends to enact S.A.A.C.’s proposal as the model for the semi-open gradebook next year.
Bridget’18 supports the grade book, knowing it will include these adjustments.
“I think it’s important to know where you stand so that you can communicate with a teacher if you need to and also to understand how much a certain test or quiz or project has actually impacted your grade,” Bridget said.