One would think that since midterms have passed, the stress level of the student population would have diminished somewhat, but such is not the case. Students still struggle with the constant dilemma brought on by grades and Veracross. This same dilemma can plague any educational institution, though I cringe at the scale of its presence here at Loomis Chaffee.
Veracross has become a sort of deity among students, who check their grades between every class. They spend more of their energy on this tool than on their own learning, and they end up being too stressed about their tests and grades to be be able to learn and function. This stress undermines their education, and inhibits their learning. Stress and emphasis should be taken off of Veracross and grades and onto exploration, experimentation, and growth.
The more they stress about what their grades are, the less students focus on learning. Loomis has a policy under which parents cannot see every test, quiz, and paper score, because we do not want to emphasize grades or increase pressure on students. Grades are just one form of communication between students and teachers. There are many other forms of communication we should be promoting that would lead to a more positive community which is genuinely motivated to learn.
Stress and anxiety are already major factors in the lives of Loomis students. Making education about the numbers, and not about the individual, only increases stress and anxiety exponentially.
Veracross is the wrong motivation for harder work, as it undermines drive and effort. A student should always strive to do his or her best, and for that there is no limit, no number, and no calculation. This should be the approach, instead of doing unnecessary work to determine the minimum needed to raise a grade.
A student should always do his best no matter what his best looks like. Good effort will result in better learning, progress, and outcomes, and it will deliver deeper, more meaningful learning. Students should not be worried about calculating how well they must perform on an assignment to raise their grade but instead should seek to do their best to represent their learning and understanding of the material.
Pelicans should give their all in everything that is done. We should not take shortcuts or strive for the minimum score needed to get a desired grade. Otherwise, we are raising students who spend more work determining the easiest way to get around obstacles instead of doing their best to overcome them.
Returned assignments give a much better representation of a student’s progress and learning, with comments, adjustments, constructive criticism, and corrections all giving excellent feedback on students went wrong, could improve, or showed significant improvement. Veracross falls short in all these regards. Returned assignments are the objects from which students can actually learn and improve in the future by seeing their mistakes, learning from them, as well as identifying their strengths.
Teachers should have much more freedom to adjust their grading, with the autonomy to use their discretion to reflect and respond to extenuating circumstances without the technicalities of Veracross. The academic climate should be supportive for educators as well as for students.
The emphasis should be put on learning instead of breeding machine-like young adults focused only on superficial items and numbers. Loomis is a school that promotes our best selves. Now is an excellent opportunity to illuminate that true meaning of education.