Letter grades given for the first semester

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By Bindu Koyi, Alexis Dixon, Ripa Begum, and Sukhbir Kaur, Staff Writers

In addition to creation of the new schedule, the school administration has also been in the process of enforcing a new policy; letter grades are being incorporated into report cards for the first marking period of the 2018-2019 school year.

Veronica York, the Assistant Principal of Townsend Harris, stated that she wanted to start this system in order to ease the stress number grades cause. She described letter grades as “grades that are a little more humane and not such a hard defined number.”

For 9-11 graders, the letter grades are ME, MT, and MB. ME stands for ¨exceeds expectations,” symbolizing a grade greater than 85. MT stands for ¨meets expectations,” being the equivalent of a grade greater than 75 and less than 84. MB is ¨below expectations,¨ which signifies a grade below 75. In addition to these, there are letters for students who have not reported to the class or who have just been admitted. According to an email sent to teachers, ¨The purpose of this grading policy is to allow students, families, and teachers to have a mutual understanding of what specific grades mean.¨

Junior Josephine Chen is grateful for the administration’s consideration of students’ feelings. “It’s one of the first times a school is changing their policy just to help make the students’ lives easier,” said Josephine. ¨Now, I don’t have to worry about showing my parents my grades, and instead can focus on familiarizing myself with each subject first.”

Sophomore Vishnupriya Thummala also finds the altered system advantageous. “This is preparing us for college in a way,” she said. “Colleges always use letter grades and now we’ll get to experience how it feels to follow such a system.”

Unlike the underclassmen, the seniors will receive numerical grades. Ms. York explained, “Seniors need to have numerical grades so that [the school] can send their grades to college for early admission.” She asserted that the school needs to ensure that the students “have the best possible application to send to colleges.”

Senior Oluwafisayo Adeoye stated that although she is envious of the underclassmen for this opportunity, she seconds Ms. York’s statement by admitting that she “[understands] why the school can’t do the same for the seniors and [is] thankful that the system is changing for at least the underclassmen.”

Historically, Townsend Harris had relied on a system of Es, Ss, and Us for a while as substitutes for number grades. This system is not an option for this year; Ms. York recalled that “parents of students who had received an S in the past were confused on whether their child received a 75 or an 88 and frequently expressed their disapproval.”

Despite students being receptive of the changes some are concerned by the fact that they haven’t heard any news of this change being made. Nevertheless, even though many only heard the news about the recent change from rumors, junior Josephine Chen claimed, “It doesn’t matter how or where I heard [the news] from. It just matters that this change will take tons of stress off of my plate for a while. That’s really all anyone in this school needs.”