Gym grading takes unexpected turn to students’ dismay

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Majeda Mohammed

The students at Scotch Plains Fanwood High School are now being graded based on criteria aside from participation in gym class. This change has received negative feedback from students.
Suddenly, after running the mile or completing the long jump, these activities appeared on PowerSchool with grades besides them. For the grade-conscious, this became an issue. The grades bring to question whether or not student athletes have an advantage over other students. It would be unfair to grade a student who has never touched a basketball before and the captain of the basketball team under the same standard for their dribbling skills.
Fitness testing has been the biggest concern for students.
Student Michaela Sullivan said, “If a kid gets straight A’s in their academic classes and actively participates in gym class, but they can only do 13 push-ups, is it fair to bring their grade down? I think the grading system should be geared toward students’ effort and participation in gym, therefore encouraging them to be more active, which is what the point of PE is supposed to be. To help kids be healthy.”
 

In previous years, students have been told to try their best when completing the long jump or the mile run. The goal was to beat the time or distance achieved during the last fitness test. This year, there have been certain times, distances and amounts of push-ups assigned to each grade, leaving students striving to get the “A”.
When asked about the grading system, Phys. Ed teacher Ms. Schiller said, “We’re beginning to grade in Phys. Ed like they do in other classes. You’ll get grades, it’s weighted, and you’ll hit the button and your grade comes up.”
While this could be viewed as a success in the sense that some students are putting forth more effort, the sole purpose of a physical education class is to promote fitness in students and lower obesity rates. Fitness happens once every marking period, excluding health classes. In between that time, students participate in different sports units that vary in the level of physical activity they require. By the time fitness week rolls around again, unless they are an athlete, students can be out of practice and out of shape. This then gives student athletes an advantage and leaves the other students no more fit than they were before.
If this method of grading continues, it would be more effective to allow students to have in-class practice on what they will eventually be graded on. Having sprint or long distance drills run throughout the course of a marking period would allow non-athletic students to improve and level the field a little more. However, in the end, student athletes do have the leg up in these situations and teachers should take that into account when inputting grades.