December 22, 2015

Grades, Gym and Getting Fit

Grades, Gym and Getting Fit
Iris Berman ‘18

Since the beginning of September, students have had access to their grades through the school website. This has not only allowed students to closely monitor their grades so they know what to improve upon, but it has also made students and parents somewhat hyper-aware and critical of their grades. One example of the effects of the usage of this new program is the new debate regarding a student’s gym grade.
In gym this year, a grade was comprised of three sections: preparation, skills and fitness.
The fitness category, the new controversial addition this year, was made up of a single evaluation - the mile time. Students that earned a grade of 90 achieved high fitness, while those in the 80s range achieved average time. Grades in the 70s reflected lower fitness. This raised many questions from students because many feel that fitness is not a good representation of how much effort they put into the class.
No matter how much we run it still doesn't always amount to a desirable grade,” said Sophomore Maya Robbins. “It is out of our control as students and is completely unfair.”
Like Robbins, many other students argue that it is unfair that a student who put in less effort during the mile run, but still received a “good score”  will receive a much higher grade than someone who trains and tries their hardest, but is unable to achieve this score. Although many students were upset by it, many of the more athletic students did not believe that this was a problem and even saw the merit to testing on fitness.
I think it's fair because it's only one of the aspects of our grade.” said sophomore Andy Antiles. “A part of physical Education is being in shape. That's like saying in math that our math skills shouldn't be taken into account for our grade.”
Those who adhere to Antiles’ argument essentially believe that while effort is a major factor in life, the output is what is judged and what should be graded in class.
While this argument may have valid points, many argue that it is irrelevant.
Sophomore Sam Russo argues that even if that argument was completely sound, the Physical Education syllabus itself claims not to grade by said standards. According to the syllabus, “15 percent of the grade will be based on fitness development and improvement.”
In addition, Russo said that in all previous years students were told that they were only being graded on their improvement.
There were some students who not only had a problem with the reasoning behind it or even what the syllabus says, but the ethics that come with grading students on their fitness.
“How is it fair that we are all expected to perform the same as everyone else,” asked sophomore Eran Shapiro, “and how is fair that your physical body affects your grade?”
Shapiro feels that students shouldn’t feel judged or insecure because of their physical health and fitness and that the current grading system restricts certain types of people from ever achieving high-fitness grades.
Mrs. Herman, the head of the Physical Education department said there was a misunderstanding within the fitness grade.
“In the future the grade will be reflective of all fitness components obtained or sustained in the marking period, including the student’s personal improvement,” Herman said.
That said, Herman added that this grading process is not new and that “fitness has always been incorporated into the student's’ grades.”
Many students believe that there was some sort of miscommunication and that the system will be fixed as quickly as possible.
If this is true that a miscommunication occurred, it can only be expected by students that for the next marking period the issue will be resolved and that everyone involved in the matter learned from the possible errors that took place.
“The entire experience was kind of degrading.” said sophomore Jessie Ruchman. “I just hope that both teachers and students can learn something from this.”

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