Grading policy puzzles students

Emma Ismail, News Editor

Evidence based reporting (EBR) is a grading system that has seen increased use at Stevenson over the past few years. EBR consists of using numbers on a one through four scale for grades instead of the traditional percentages and letters.

Next year, it is likely that there will be 50 percent of courses operating under EBR according to Anthony Reibel, Director of Assessment/Research/Evaluation.

Officially introduced in 2012, the number of courses using the EBR system have increased each year. Next year, it is likely that more EBR courses will be added at Stevenson.

The process to convert a class to EBR is best described as “organic”, which means that curricular teams can decide when it is best to change over to this grading system, Reibel said. When the academic team of teachers for a course feels like they are ready, Reibel gets that team started on the slow transition to EBR which takes about a semester to complete.

“As has been the pattern, we’ll see another eight to ten [courses] decide to [transition] next year,” Reibel said. “Hopefully it just continues this way until every course is gone.”

The transition to EBR is a long one, but teachers and directors such as Reibel see many benefits to the newer system. The goal for EBR is that learning is centered on evidence-based conversations involving teacher and student, Reibel said.

“With the traditional system— the points, math and the formulaic nature of it— the conversations about growth and learning are kind of pushed to the side,” Reibel said.

Teachers also want to have a constant exchange between them and the students. According to English teacher Nicole Smith, the traditional grading system doesn’t allow for those discussions.

“I feel like EBR more closely matches how learning actually works,” Smith said. “When we learn, we need feedback immediately on what we can do to improve.”

Though EBR is supposed to show clearer feedback and a better outline of what needs to be done to receive a better grade, many students find it increasingly difficult to understand where their grades are coming from, Elijah Bennett ’19 said. It’s easier to understand how to receive a better grade in a traditional grading system, Bennett said.

“Converting grades doesn’t make any sense to us,” Bennett said. “It’s hard trying to figure out where you would be at the six-week mark.”

Though Bennett says he takes more of an impartial view on the subject of EBR because he sees its benefits, other students are more outwardly against it. The hardest part for students is understanding the way that the numbers of EBR becomes a letter grade, both Bennett and Josh Ezrol ’19 said.

“I hate EBR because the fact that it translates to letter grades doesn’t make any sense,” Ezrol said. “Getting a single two throughout the year should not automatically give you a B.”

To the dismay of many students such as Ezrol, EBR will be continuously implemented in courses in the upcoming years. EBR promotes skills students will need later in life, such as self-efficacy, according to Reibel.

“We want students to have the skills, that whatever their post-secondary plans, they have a strong perspective on self,” said Reibel.