A current student’s view of HVRHS grading

My name is Mia Tittmann and I am a ninth-grader at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. Of course there have been changes to the school over time, but the response to them has never reached this point.

With any change, it requires a change in execution, mind and community. I am well aware that not everyone will be on the same side, nor that this situation is black and white. Personally, I believe this system can and eventually will work. However, since students were not prepared and need slow integration, this resulted in major issues. After reading this, I hope we can agree that in order for the dust to settle, we as a community need to come together for the students. 

In my eyes, what occurs when there is a summative assignment (meaning that it counts towards my final grade) is simple. I do the formative leading up to it knowing that it is preparing me for the assignment and then receive my grade. I must admit that I am not in the same boat as many of my peers and have had little to no NYPs (grade  less than 70 percent). However, when I do, I restudy the content, meet with my teacher and reassess. 

While this is the way that it is supposed to go for the rest of my fellow students, it does not. Many believe that the NYP is a safety net. All it means is that they have to do it again in 10 days. It is a matter of how time affects us as students. Since deadlines are not strict, many are not motivated to do the work. It leads into the mindset that students have. As most people know, procrastination is a teenager’s best friend. 

Before the NYP, pushing assignments off to the last minute meant crunch time, but now, it only means that we have another 10 days to do it. I understand that this system is supposed to help students learn at their own pace to achieve mastery-based skills.

Yet, while I am aware of this, many of my peers have not even heard of this concept. While this makes sense for the students who do learn at a slower pace and are willing to work, there will always be students who see this as an advantage for them to slack off. 

The flip side of this is that for students like me who learn at a faster pace and take action, this is viewed as an injustice. We do understand and want our peers to master the content, but cannot help but believe that they are being rewarded the same.

Moreover, students want a level playing field. The imbalance with the process leads to the negative responses. It is a matter of caring about how one’s grade is handled and actual action from all parties. With all parties (Board of Education, administration, parents, etc.) included, we all need to communicate far better. It is the idea that on many occasions everyone has one piece of the puzzle, but not the full picture. 

I firmly believe that the lack of communication and understanding is the main root of the problem. The best way, I believe, to fix this is for more meetings to be presented, preferably in smaller groups, with a more civil manner. 

HVRHS recently had class meetings. Based on what I have heard, many were unaware as to why they were in the meeting in the first place, but in the end we took a step forward for what felt like the first time. This is what we need as a community. 

We want the how, when and especially the why, to the changes that are happening to us. Beyond the students, we need parents and teachers to voice their concerns effectively and the administration to take in their opinions. 

While there is a chain of command and ultimately what certain people say is valued differently, it does not make anyone’s opinion less important. We as a community need to have a clear mind in upcoming events. There needs to be total awareness of the people. Everything from the system flow to the mindset to the communication and cooperation have seen progress. 

While we are a long way from perfection, like anything in life, we need to take it bit by bit with the students in mind. The current climate of the community is a rough sea, but I hope as do many others that we can smooth out all the edges. 

With all of this in mind, please attend meetings, please voice your concerns and please understand that we are all fighting for the same cause. In the end, we need a cultural peace, strength and faith to benefit the students of Housatonic Valley Regional High School. 


Mia Tittman lives in Salisbury and is a freshman at Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village.