Participation Grades


Dylan Cashin, Staff Writer


A 70? How? I’ve only gotten 100’s on my tests and quizzes and have turned in all my homework on time. I pay attention in class and take notes. Just because I don’t raise my hand in your class or answer some google form I get penalized?!

Participation is meant to be easy points. It’s not so easy when social anxiety or mental disorders prevent kids from catching those “easy points”. Many students suffer from mental illness that blocks them from getting deserving grades. According to the National Institute of Mental Health,  “An estimated 9.1% of adolescents had a social anxiety disorder, and an estimated 1.3% had severe impairment”. That is close to 1 out of every 10 kids that have trouble speaking and participating with other students and teachers. That is 9.1% of kids that will struggle with speaking in front of a class and be thought of as “non-engaged.” Engagement is not always vocal. Pushing kids out of where they are comfortable can be damaging to their mental health. Grades should be based on how smart you are, not the teacher’s opinion about you. 

Along with students that have a mental illness, there are also introverts.  Introverts are people that are predominantly concerned with their own thoughts and feelings rather than with external things. This means when it comes to public speaking and vocal participation in class, it can be uncomfortable. According to Lisa Anne Ruth-said, a woman who works with students in schools and hospitals, “Introverts are thought to comprise approximately 40 percent of the student body.” That means four out of ten students are often thought of as quiet, reserved, and thoughtful. They don’t seek out special attention or social engagements, events can leave introverts feeling exhausted and drained. Introverts don’t seek out attention and enjoy minimally stimulating environments. Being pressured to speak out to keep up with your grades is unfair when it comes to who you are. If you are uncomfortable with raising your hand or being vocal, why should you be forced to do it to keep up with grades?

 When students are interpreting the material and understanding it, then why should the number of questions asked in the class matter? Students interpret information in different ways. Some interpret it in vocal ways and others in different ways. Grading using participation ignores the various ways people understand information. 

Why should it affect their grade if they are working hard and getting their work done? Smart kids that want to go to college can have their GPAs lowered because they are having a bad day and don’t want to participate in the class. But isn’t that human? As long as they are understanding what is given to them and doing their work, there should be no fear of grades dropping. No one is happy sitting in school 5 days a week, 7 hours a day, and not everyone is 100% all the time and that matter affecting their grades is upsetting. 

Abilities should be challenged, not character traits. If getting graded based on a certain personality trait is how school’s grade books are laid out, then obviously something needs to be changed.