Students Still Adapting To Regina’s Grading Policy


Photo Credit/ Photo Credit/Unsplash: Ben Mullins

Students feel formative and summative percentages should be fairer.

Like many schools around the country, education on the secondary level has shifted into policies that reflect years of best practices research. Last year, Regina implemented new grading practices that relies on evidence based research. The grading policy has been realigned to reflect 30% formative assessments and 70% summative assessments   

Assistant Principal, Verna Allworth, stated that Regina’s Academic Task Force spend hours of professional development and research, looking into the latest educational trends and research related to the literature involving grading practices. After a year,  the Academic Task Force submitted its proposal, which was approved by the Administration and Board of Directors. 

As indicated in a grading policy handout that was shared with the school community and which is included in each Sunday morning Panther Parent Newsletter sent out to Regina families, background, rationale, and detailed information is explained.   

Formative assessments such as homework, quizzes, discussion, rough drafts, etc. are utilized for a student’s understanding of learning that is continual practice. Whereas the summative assessments, such as tests, papers, projects, presentations evaluates the student’s learning after spending time practicing with formative assignments.

The grading policy, based on research, supports measures that curriculum is well-aligned to provide an accurate picture of a student’s learning. A major benefit of the grading policy allows students to retake or revise a summative assessment where mastery of the content can try again.

Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Van Treese likes the change.   She explained that the change is beneficial because summative assessments are a way for students to show teachers that they understand the material in a meaningful way and that formative assignments should be used as practice to help get to that point.  Because students are given the option to retake summative assignments, Van Treese also believes that it helps them prepare for the future. 

She said, “in the real world if we make a mistake or don’t finish something it’s not like that’s it; typically there is a conversation that happens, and I feel like the new grading system gives us that.”

Overall, the student population understands the premise behind the grading percentages and the differences between formative and summative assessments. However, many students feel that the percentage of both assessments need to be more balanced, such as a 40%/60% split.

Students rationalize that formative assessments, such as homework and quizzes currently carry less weight because they are a form of practice, which results in their view that  too much pressure is placed on summative assignments worth 70% of a student’s grade. 

However,  to understand the formative concept, the use of a sports analogy helps explain the logic, the formative assessments can be compared to an athlete practicing for the game, with the game as the summative that  shows a student’s (player)  mastery of learning target skills.

Students also argue their belief that two summatives a quarter put undue pressure on those students who are bad test takers. Students, understandably, feel they will not be successful and their overall course grade will suffer due to a lower grade. Yet, with a student practicing to learn the material, the confidence in taking the test should minimize the anxiety many students feel. Also, summative assignments take many shapes and forms that balance out an evaluation of student mastery.

Schools across the country, not just Regina, have moved to this new grading model. However, students argue that formative assignments should weigh slightly more in percentage order to help balance grades more evenly for those students who complete their homework or practice their material for quizzes.

A consistent argument from students focuses on the fact that since formative assignments are worth only a small amount of their grade, many do not feel motivated to do their best on homework, or even do it at all because the effect it would have on the grade is minimal at best.  Because students are not motivated to do their homework since the formative is worth merely 30% of their grades, how are they expected to know material for a test?  Another student said that they spent more time on homework than they do actually studying for tests,which is the benchmark that count more for their quarterly and semester grade. Students agree that tests should weigh more than a homework assignment, but the 70% to 30% ratio does not seem fair to many students.  

As high school students enter into their next phase of life in college, it is evident that most universities include a grading system that focuses solely on summative assessments. However, a study conducted by Brookings Institution claimed that in their study using a sample of students from Boise State University found that students who are allowed retakes, pass/fail grading options, and other lenient policies are associated ” with longer times to graduation, (but), the improvements in ultimate success and increases associated with more STEM graduates may be worth the cost.”

As of now, Regina will remail 70% Summative and 30% Formative and with more data both at Regina and across the nation, more studies will be conducted to truly see if these new implemented policies remain helpful or hurtful to student success.