Communication Miscalculation

Mara Guyer

Mara Guyer

Mara Guyer, Assistant Editor

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Extra credit isn’t going anywhere.


Last week, a post lamenting a school ban on extra credit circulated on the ever-active Class of 2017 Facebook page.  In person and online, members of the class fell into a familiar combination of panic and confusion.  Was the ban confirmed?  Only for certain departments?  Would previously completed extra credit assignments still be counted?


The rumor was frustrating for me as a student and the daughter of a teacher.  Extra credit is an extension of teacher autonomy in the classroom, and an effective tool to guide students in learning outside of the school environment.  Those assignments can provide needed help with grades to students who are struggling with material but conscientious about completing coursework.  Students can specialize and explore topics related to the course, and be rewarded for taking an active role in their education.  


However, this isn’t a plea to save extra credit at Maggie Walker because it doesn’t need to be saved.  After speaking with several classmates and faculty members–many of whom had been completely unaware of the grading drama rocking the senior class–it became evident that there is no official ban, and certainly not one imposed schoolwide.


Communication at Maggie Walker is abysmal.  For all our school’s representatives, clubs, and committees, the flow of information is inconsistent at best and inaccurate at worst.  The first few weeks of the school year were dominated by confusion surrounding VCU Dual Enrollment forms; to me, another giant hole in school communication seemed entirely possible.  Distrust of administrative decisionmaking appeared to be a factor for some students.  Though several classmates described to me that they felt blindsided by the alleged announcement on extra credit, some also articulated that they felt unsurprised by a decision made without their input.  


Belief in the extra credit ban was not completely unfounded.  Extra credit is a significant feature of physics classes at the school; sometimes student grades, particularly before the inclusion of test and lab components in a quarter, exceed 100 percent.  Grade inflation is a legitimate issue to be discussed; so is the possibility that students are improperly placed in a course level below their ability.  


But maybe the concern is misdirected.  Instead of emphasizing the role of extra credit, we ought to consider the atmosphere that created the problem.  Are students more concerned with good grades than coursework that challenges them intellectually?  How are these issues contributing to school levels of stress and quality of learning environment?  


We need to reflect seriously as a community on our willingness to take on intellectual challenges at the expense of a perfect transcript.  We need to improve channels of communication.  And we need to not believe everything we read on the internet.  

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.

Navigate Right
Navigate Left
Communication Miscalculation