Running on five hours of sleep as you struggle to take that test first period? Rushing to finish the graded homework due the period after Unit Lunch? Have no fear, the RHS Administration is here!
In mid-January the RHS Administration, which includes Mr. McDonald, Ms. Nold, Mr, Ferreri, Mr. McCullough, Mr. Bell, Mr. Pizzuto, and Dr. Gorman, instituted a new academic policy, hoping to ease the stressful schedule that can sometimes overwhelm RHS students. This new rule denies teachers the ability to distribute or collect graded assignments from students during the first period of the day or the period after lunch. Graded assignments include tests and quizzes. While homework and classwork can be assessed for completion, they cannot be graded for accuracy.
In a brief interview with Vice Principal Jeffrey Nyhuis, he described the details of this new policy:
What is the goal of the policy?
“The goal of the policy is to ensure that students do not have more than 4 graded assignments a day. The administration felt strongly that it was not fair for students to be expected to prepare for more than 4 assignments per day.”
What prompted the administration to create the policy? Why now?
“This policy has existed for a long time, but only in regards to testing during these periods. The administration noticed a clear breakdown in the spirit of the policy, as teachers would work around it. Because of the rotating schedule, we wanted to provide [students] with the feeling that they won’t have more than four assessments each day. While rewriting the policy, we realized it was too loose; teachers were still giving large assessments during these periods. The main idea that we were trying to get at is the fact that students should not have to worry about having six assessments in one day, including papers and projects.”
What happens if a teacher violates the policy?
“It is up to the student to report it, and a supervisor will then speak with the teacher. Though there was some negative reaction, some teachers felt we were telling them how to run their classes, the policy overall yielded healthy conversations. Teachers aren’t out to get students; they, too, want to create healthy, productive environment for RHS. The administration hopes to receive feedback so that it can modify and improve the policy in the future.”
Both students and teachers have expressed a range of reactions to the specifics of the rule. While some aspects alleviate the constant pressure a student feels throughout the day, others can hinder a student’s success.
Freshman Sophie Howard finds the policy beneficial overall, as it provides students with a reprieve during which they can gather themselves before their morning and afternoon periods and it “limits the amount of work [a student has] when [he or she] is most tired.” She also understands how it can be counterproductive since it forces teachers “to change their entire schedules to avoid [the forbidden] test times.” For example, a teacher may have planned to assign a test the week after an essay was due, but, because of the new policy and rate at which he or she must teach the curriculum, may have no choice but to move the two assessments to the same day.
Junior Kaylee Gardner approves of the decrease in the amount of times a student is judged per day, but also found one major flaw with the policy: it makes it more difficult for teachers to grant opportunities to students that may boost their grades or improve their learning. By prohibiting graded homework and classwork based on correctness, students may lose motivation to do the assignment in full and instead may mindlessly write down meager answers simply to receive credit. On the other hand, the work of students who do their assignments diligently and accurately will go unnoticed; they will not be recognized separately from the rest.
Though many teachers can get behind the policy, they feel it is unfair to spring it on them in the middle of the year. Those who have planned out their schedule in detail must now rearrange the due dates for the rest of their assignments. History and Philosophy teacher Dr. Bernardo is overall in favor of the policy. He believes teachers “have a mission to produce healthy kids and help them sleep more if it can be helped.” Like any policy, it has its downsides. Because of the way the rotating schedule is structured, Dr. B is forced to make certain assessments due 1-2 days sooner for some classes to keep his curriculum in tact for the rest of the year. Still, he is “philosophically in agreement” with the policy and thinks it serves as a cause for teachers to truly contemplate “what homework they are giving and why.”
In my opinion, this policy is a step in the right direction. As a member of Global Classroom and the Principal’s Advisory, I have debated ways to improve student life at RHS since the beginning of the year and have worked to generate potential academic policies with fellow students. Though it has its kinks, this policy makes each day at RHS more manageable for the students and helps them to stay on top of their work load. After all the discussion, I am delighted to see the administration take some action and finally implement a policy.
Graphics: Jessica Chang