The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

The Student Voice of North Allegheny Senior High School

The Uproar

Is that Summative or Formative?

The grading system at NASH categorizes assignments as one or the other, and that can make a big difference.
royalty-free image adapted from Daniel Megias / Motion Array

The end of the first nine-week marking period brought the first big stressor of the year—report cards. NASH students spent the last week of the quarter doing everything they could to squeeze in any points to boost their grade.

But with the formative/summative grading system, boosting a grade is not as simple as it once was.

“Formative and summative can either hurt or help my grade, depending on how many assignments each of the teacher assigns,” NASH junior Isabella Huwar said.

Two years ago, North Allegheny switched its grading system from total points to summative/formative, creating two separate categories in the gradebook. Summative assignments are the heavier, more meaningful grades, such as chapter tests, projects, labs or essays. Formative assignments, on the other hand, can include smaller assignments, such as homework completion, in-class exercises, and progress checks.

The distribution between summative and formative varies based on the course. All AP courses and Honors Math courses use an 80% summative and 20% formative scale. Honors English, Science, and Social Studies courses, as well as Academic Math, English, Science, and Social Studies courses use a 70% summative and 30% formative scale. Essentials and Standard level courses, as well as World Language courses use a 60% summative and 40% formative scale.

However, across each department, individual teachers may choose their own summative/formative balance.

NASH junior Eliana Jones questions whether the grading system truly acts to benefit students.

“Summative/formative isn’t very fair to people who struggle taking tests because it counts for the majority of their grade,” Jones said. “They could do really well on everything else but still end up with a bad overall grade.”

Addie Graves, a junior, has similar thoughts on the subject.

“I think weighted summative grades make a very big impact on final grades,” she said. “You could have a 100% on all formative assignments but a summative test will make or break your whole grade. It is the reason I finished with an 86 in math last quarter.”

However, some students find the grading system to be a good measure of how well they are doing in a certain class.

“I usually appreciate summative and formative when I get a good grade on a test and it boosts my grade,” junior Kendall Graham explains,

To be expected, some students are in favor of changing the weight each category holds.

“I think it is a fair system,” junior Anna Fiffik said, “but it could be weighted differently, maybe 60-40, just because some students are not great test takers.”

Fellow junior Tessa McDowell has a mixed opinion.

“I go back and forth because in some of my classes it helps my grade, but in others it can hurt,” she said. “I am generally not a fan because it puts extra stress on tests.”

Regardless of their views, students would be smart to continue taking the grading system into consideration before thinking about not completing some homework or under-preparing for a big test.

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About the Contributor
Natalie Kinross, Staff Writer
Natalie is a junior at NASH. This is her first year writing for The Uproar. She plays on the Girls' Basketball Team and enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

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