HHS Teachers, Students Say Focus on Grades Undermines Learning

By Katie Cocco, Journalism 1 student

Edited by Lynn Dang, Hershey Section Editor

HERSHEY–Freshman Karis Gould slumped down into her seat the moment that she found out her hard work had not paid off.   

Teachers and students at Hershey High School admit that their education hasn’t always been the most important objective to them. According to Gould, the aspect of low acceptance rates to college, and high standards at home, has left students struggling to find their education more valuable than receiving an A. Through these experiences, Gould has came to a conclusion: she would rather get a good grade than a bad grade, even if it meant she did not completely understand the subject.

Gould isn’t the only one who cares more about the grade than the learning: In an informal survey of 100 HHS students during the first marking period, 81 said that they care more about their grades than how much they are learning.

The other 19 believed that learning was more important than receiving a good grade. Shari Stuckey,HHS English teacher, conveyed that honor students were typically more likely to care about their grades. She was an honor student herself in high school, and continuously found herself doing the best she could to receive a satisfying grade.

When speaking on behalf of her honor student’s settlement on grades, she stated, “The focus is on the grade itself. Not, ‘how can I improve myself?’”

Honor student Gould stated that she has found herself thinking only about graded points at times. Additionally, she has found herself filling things out occasionally only to receive good grades, rather than to help her further understand the subject.  

There may be a reason that students have put their grades above learning. Various aspects and objectives have swayed students opinions on the importance of good grades.

Gould has many objectives in and out of high school. One of the main reasons that she has found grades crucial is because she plans to attend college in the near future. Gould checks her grades constantly to make sure that she has reached her goals.

Stuckey also believes that students are focused more on their grades. She claimed “Without those grades, they’re not going to be able to achieve the goals that they have for themselves.”

Between incentives at home, Home Access Center, and college admissions, students similar to Gould have found themselves upset over a bad grade, even if they understood the material.

Although Gould’s current focus is on her grades, she believes that comprehension will become more valuable later in her life. She stated that it depends on where she is located, as to how important learning in school actually would have been for her. She realized that grades will become much less important once she has a job.

“You get to a point where grades don’t matter anymore, and it’s about what you learned,” Gould said.

She admitted that it may be nice to receive an A short term, but in the long term, she would much rather have complete comprehension of the information that was taught. It is important to ask questions and see the teacher if there is confusion on something, especially if it will come back up, Gould presumed.

Similarly, Stuckey believes that as you become older it is less foggy as to why learning was important in school. She also thinks many skills picked up from projects in class may eventually become relevant and purposeful in the real world.