The Real Meaning of “Grades”


Picture by Icy Tales

In a day and age where the atmosphere of schools is becoming increasingly competitive, many students are demanding an accurate evaluation of their academic capabilities as an indicator when competing with their peers. It comes as little surprise that this assessment is being done by means of one’s grades. Those with higher grades are, generally, at a more exalted rank in comparison with others.

By many accounts, classification of aptitude this way is reasonable. Higher grades in school are obviously linked with intellect. Though there is no denying this, what many students of Quartz Hill have claimed is that grades aren’t a great indicator of intelligence. Other factors can be incorporated into what grades truly stand for. Ultimately, they are a cumulative measure of one’s capabilities as a student, not simply intelligence.

Testing ability is one aspect that serves as a major determining factor in what grade is received in a class. There is more required to perform well in an assessment than just an academic understanding of a topic. Sophia Manzano, a high-achieving freshman, stated, “There are many subjects which I do feel I know a lot about. However, my grades are not at the level I want them to be at because of tests. I am not a great test taker.” As highlighted by this statement, students who are knowledgeable about the content of a test may not always perform well and could get low grades. Intelligence is not everything.

Sophomore Tianchi Zhou also expressed his thoughts on this topic, mentioning, “Grades measure effort. Students can be smart but they also might be lazy.” This point is extremely relevant, especially when considering homework. In certain situations, individuals may ace all their tests and nail their classwork assignments because of their knowledge on a subject. However, they fail to turn in or complete homework assignments just out of pure laziness. It is, in this instance, acts of complacency that served as the determining factor regarding one’s grades.

Discussing this issue, freshmen Jacob Chung added, “I think teacher bias plays a large part in grades. If the teacher is terrible and favors only certain students, then you can’t pass.” Though many teachers refuse to admit it, there are many situations where bias is unavoidable and plays a role in grading. For instance, English teachers need to use their own judgment when grading papers. This judgment is subject to heavy favoritism, making instances possible such as a teacher’s children, friends, or relatives getting high grades. Not only that, but teachers can also view topics in a certain way, sometimes disregarding a different but viable approach a student may have on a topic. Marking students down for this doesn’t make sense, but it’s still common anyways. Once again, this example highlights how there are so many factors towards how one’s grades are determined.

Another interesting approach to this issue is how students may receive bad grades in certain subjects just due to lack of interest. They could be the brightest kid around in one subject, but flunk another subject simply because their interests lie elsewhere. Senior Larry Stogsdale mentioned a particular instance of this, stating, “We know someone who doesn’t know Pythagorean theorem but knows every little bit of information about black holes because they are interested in the subject.” Grades demand well-roundedness in all subjects, which is not necessarily the easiest task for all people. Despite this, it isn’t entirely fair to consider these people unintelligent either.

So, after addressing all of this, what is the real meaning of grades? Perhaps the answer isn’t so straightforward.