Live Grades Would Fuel Stress and Competition

Digital illustration by Phoenix Zhang.

“Please wait while the report is being generated. Please do not close this window.” We see these words only four times a year, when our grade reports are sent out at the end of each progress period—a stressful time for most people. 

According to senior Annabel Williams, a Student Staff Council representative, students have for years been bringing up the idea of implementing a live grading system where they can check grades at any point. Williams said the GDS administration has historically been resistant to the idea.  

SSC members sent out a survey on Jan. 26 to gauge the student body’s opinions on live grades. There were a total of 335 responses, about three-quarters of which were in favor of a new live grading system. 

But live grades would be detrimental to the students’ learning and mental health. They would reinforce a relentless pressure to succeed in school and create an even more competitive environment. Live grades would exacerbate the pervasive emphasis at GDS to get good grades even at the cost of actually learning. 

Since overall grades in a course only include the material teachers have already graded, live grades would rarely be up to date. 

Assuming that parents would still be able to access their children’s grades, live updates would increase parents’ ability to micromanage their kids. Pressure on students is already incredibly high given our workload; giving parents constant access to grades would only make things worse.

Grades are an important part of the high school experience, but constantly seeing them would increase students’ stress levels and the pressure we put on ourselves to do well. If I get a bad grade, I don’t want to be constantly reminded of it each time I open MyGDS. 

Already, ubiquitous discussions among students about grades create an overly competitive environment that affects my performance and motivation at school; considering what grades other students receive on assessments while I am taking my own is already a stressor. With live grades, that effect would be amplified, with constant talks about specific assessments broadening to constant talks about one’s overall progress in school. 

Although live grades shouldn’t be implemented, the survey’s responders are right that the system we have in place isn’t perfect. Seeing our grades a minimum of four times a year isn’t adequate. Sometimes I’m surprised when I open my grade reports.

If progress reports came twice or even three times a quarter instead of once, it would give students a better sense of how they are doing and would allow us to work harder in classes we want to perform better in while still minimizing stress levels for students. The current system has its faults, but switching to live grades would have a net negative impact on the student body.