Now into more than nine weeks of the school year, students and teachers have a chance to better understand the district’s decision to change grading in the math department to a 90/10 system. But that change has not come without conflict.
Linda Thompson, director of curriculum and instruction for Carmel Clay schools, along with the district’s math department chair people, implemented a weighted grading system of 90 percent tests and quizzes and 10 percent homework, whereas in the past, it was 80 and 20 percent respectively. According to math department chairperson Vicki Tribul, this decision applies to both high school and middle school math courses across the district of Carmel Clay schools.
“The key to grades is that it’s supposed to show what you know,” Tribul said. “To us, that’s quizzes and tests, where homework is a time for practice.”
Junior Eleanor Spolyar, who is currently taking regular precalculus, said she dislikes the decision. She said homework helps reinforce concepts learned in class, and thus the importance of homework should be more highly stressed.
“I think 90 percent is just too much; I liked (the grading system) better at 80 percent,” Spolyar said. “If you only have three tests in a quarter and mess up on one of them, then you’ll automatically get a B in the class. I feel that if they’re going to do 90 percent and 10 percent, they should balance it more. It’s harder to bring up your grade if you mess up once on a test; it just makes it more of a challenge.”
According to research published in the National Council of Teacher of Mathematics (NCTM), the average person who does homework has a higher test score than 73 percent of students who do not do homework.
However, sophomore Jack Langston, who is currently taking honors precalculus, said he supports the new grading system, and although it is indeed beneficial to do homework, having less emphasis on it allows him to focus more on other tasks.
“You could be super smart and not do your homework all the time and still get an A in the class with the new system, whereas before, you’d have to be pretty consistent in doing your homework. To me, some homework is just busy work and is not really necessary,” Langston said.
According to NCTM, the same study shows that the positive relation between homework time and students’ achievement levels out at about two hours and may even decline beyond that point, suggesting an optimal amount of homework for high school students between 90 minutes and two and a half hours a night.
Tribul said high school is meant to prepare students for college. Though homework helps in preparing for tests, it generally does not have a factor in college grades.
Tribul said, “When you go to college, typically all you have are assessments. It’s just working towards understanding and not just a homework paper. If we’re going to measure what you know, then it has to be through assessments.”
Click here to read our staff perspective of this policy.