Searching For Education Answers


Jaidebet Avila

Creative Writing Club President Hannah Moore works on her novel during a club meeting.

Emma Fritchen, Reporter

When confronted with the options available on course selection day for junior year, sophomore Camilla Solis has one unwavering personal requirement all her courses must meet: they must be classes that offer additional points to her GPA.  

“I don’t take on-level classes, at all except for one and I pass failed it,” Solis said. 

Tutorials. Extra Credit. Retests. Corrections. The Public Education System offers students countless opportunities to improve their grades, thereby deeming them smart, and successful in accordance to GPA. However, the best students on paper are more susceptible to the “grade grubbing” attitude that is promoted in public schooling. 

“If I get a 95 on minor grades, I’m like, ‘ok, no big deal but you have to step up your game,” Solis said. 

In the EMSISD school district grading policy passing is a 70, and mastery is a 90-100. Solis, as well as other competitive students, consistently accomplish this; however, they are not satisfied with it because it isn’t a 100.  

“If we [people in top 10 percent] have a 98 in a class, we freak out, it stresses us out and puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on us,” sophomore Sienna Miertschin said.  

“It’s stressful because I compare myself to the top [of the class], so I think that’s average, even though it’s not,” Solis said. 

This severe competition may be breeding a generation of misguided success and may be particularly devastating to the future of the student body regarding mental and educational readiness for college. 

“I think anytime kids are competing against each other, and really trying to achieve some sort of numerical score that it’s always, to some extent, going to inhibit the natural process of just learning,” AP World History Teacher, Michael Brown said. 

 Though these students report cards portray their obvious dedication to their grades, one of the important stepping stones for life–high school–has become merely a score board. She is sacrificing learning opportunities that can better equip her for life in pursuit of earning the highest marks for colleges.   

 “There are some kids that I meet that they really only care about the grade, and that’s what they’re here for because they see this as a stop gap towards another piece of paper that they’ll get at college, which is sad because to me they aren’t really going to fully embrace what they would be getting out of it,” English teacher Brian Brissman said.   

“We [top of the class] are not learning life skill applications,” Solis said. “They’re classes that apply to real life about how to get a job. I saw a class like that I could have signed up for, but I’m not going to because it’s on level.” 

“Every year, I’d say that half the kids in my class are here because either they have an interest in the subject or they do truly want to challenge themselves, the other half are in it for the prestige of being in an AP class and for the potential of raising their GPA,” Brown said.  

 Not only is she not utilizing Chisholm’s resources to prepare her for life, in general, but she, among others, is more vulnerable to the hardships of college, ironically.  

“We are much more permissive at the high school level than you’re going to see in college, in a lot of my college classes if you missed the day of the test or you failed to turn something in, depending on your professor there was very little pity on you, and I think without that level of accountability some kids are going to suffer more at the college level,Brown said.    

Advanced placement courses may resemble college classes more than the on-level classes but this mentality high school students are developing is consequential to their immunity to failure. Failure- their concept of failure- occupies their thoughts so consumingly that they have developed issues compartmentalizing their anxiety about their grades. 

 “I check skyward like 5 times a day probably, and it’s just really stressful because whenever I have free time I’m like ‘homework, homework, homework, I have to do my homework,’ and then when I don’t have homework it’s like, ‘what am I doing?’” Miertschin said.    

 Not only do students suffer from self-inflicted pressure but many suffer from burnout. 

 “I have other friends who are like, ‘I don’t care anymore’, because the school system has put so much pressure on them, that they have given up,” Solis said.  

 “Some students don’t care at all about the grades or the learning and that’s sad because we’ve lost those kids I feel like, and it’s hard to get them back,” sophomore English teacher Brian Brissman said. 

 Public Education has promoted a generation of “grade grubbers,” students have abandoned their ambitions for an A plus, and when that no longer becomes enough to fuel their ambition, many will lose that too. At last, they are left with nothing.  

 To combat this rising pandemic, teachers believe that the educational school structure must change to reengage the students in learning.  

 “If people gave me all power to do this, I’d probably reorganize the way we have class structures,” Brissman said. “I don’t think they should be split into departments in decreed subjects like we do, rather than a class about English or Mathematics I think things should be more integrated, your math should be applied Mathematics within different disciplines, whether you’re doing astronomy work or chemistry work or something like that.”  

 Bringing back focus to the specific career paths students want to take rather than requiring classes they have no interest in could help reverse student disengagement.  

 “We still have a lot of things still based on early 1900s, let’s get you ready for the factory sort of jobs with scheduled bells for when you do and don’t do things, the Rosmcalins approach to seating, which has its place, but I think some teachers could benefit to push out of that from time to time for activities,” Brissman said.  

 This kind of structure could be promoting students to just be going through the motions while in class. If teachers restructured their teaching occasionally maybe it could prevent students from feeling unmotivated and help them engage in learning. Reestablishing the educational systems priorities could lead schools away from the “testing culture” or rather the psychological consequences regarding failure intolerance in high school.  

 “There are plenty that look at it [failing a test] as a failure rather than a chance to learn or get better and then they self-sabotage by not showing up to classes, not trying hard on other assignments so they have an excuse for why they failed the next time,” Brissman said. “I think this leads to a downhill slope for how you think of education if it’s mostly about, did I pass this test and does that evaluate me as a person?’”