A New Grading System and a New Struggle for Students with Anxiety

Photo Source: Pixabay


Photo Source: Pixabay

Ella Agocs

With the new building and changes to the learning environment, staff here at Pentucket have implemented a new grading policy this school year. The main goal of this grading system is to “limit the amount of homework, and put more of a focus on learning,” said Dr. Ruland, a member of the committee for the new grading system. The grading system now only allows for homework to be 10% of a teacher’s grade makeup; the other 90% is based on activities done in class.


Although this system has many benefits to those who have at home responsibilities, students who struggle with anxiety now are at a disadvantage. These students are more likely to struggle in school due to the effects the disorder has on the crucial skills needed to succeed during the span of class time. Not only does anxiety on its own affect skills such as attention, social skills, memory, concentration, interpretation, and even physical health, but being in school only intensifies one’s anxiety levels. In 2016, a survey done by Pew concluded that 61% of teens found grades and school to be their number one cause of stress and anxiety. Being forced into a system that focuses 90% of the grade on work done in a stress-inducing setting sets students with anxiety up for failure.


GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) among many others including OCD, PTSD, and Panic Disorders all negatively affect students due to intrusive and/or overwhelming thoughts, as well as overthinking or panic attacks. Without the ability to focus it quickly becomes difficult for students with anxiety to succeed with this class time only grade. Memory is also affected by anxiety. Memory is a very important aspect of school; if students are unable to remember what they did the day beforehand, or are unable to recall something the next day, they now are put in a failing situation among their peers in class. 


Social skills are also a very key aspect of being a student; being able to work well with others, create friendships, and build relationships with teachers and staff are all a crucial part of school. Group projects may be a struggle for students with anxiety. Not being able to work well with a group or other classmates can affect a student’s grade, especially one that is based on 90% class time. 


This new grading system could be very effective for all students if adjusted properly. “[Students with anxiety] was not addressed as much as it should have,” Dr. Ruland agrees. He added that there was always the option of test retakes, but not all teachers offer such. Retaking tests is not always ideal. Many students have after school responsibilities that prevent them from being able to stay after school. Furthermore, with the new rotating schedule not all teachers have a study hall or free period that lines up with the student’s. In addition, teachers may not give full credit on these retakes, putting students with anxiety at an even lower chance of success. Students with mental health issues are often not accommodated for, which is shown again through this new system of grading. 


The idea of a new grading system had much potential for students who struggle with not only anxiety, but many other mental disorders such as depression, adhd, or even personality disorders. Despite the potential, the Pentucket administration did not knock it out of the park with this one. Even if not all students suffer from an Anxiety disorder it is important to account for and help these students succeed