Making the grade

Students and staff discuss Oakwood’s academic difficulty, grading scale


Active academics: Students work and study for the upcoming school day in the hallway before classes start.

Sophia Shannon, Editor

Oakwood is well-known for its academic expectations and achievements. According to the U.S. News website, Oakwood is ranked as the no. 1 high school in the Dayton Metro Area, the no. 7 high school in Ohio, and the no. 225 high school in the nation.

“Our students give us a lot to be proud of,” Tim Badenhop, principal of Oakwood Junior High School and assistant principal of Oakwood High School, said. “I think the students, parents, teachers, administrators, and community all have high expectations.”

The district is currently reviewing the grading scale to ensure that the scale best serves the student body. Badenhop sent a survey to current Juniors and Seniors on behalf of the new Academic Profile Advisory Committee (APAC) on Oct. 7. The survey, created by Badenhop alongside Principal Dr. Paul Waller and Guidance Chair Kelly Owens, aimed to gain student input on the assessment of academic performance.

“Given that the whole process itself is driven by the question of what is best for our students, we wanted to gather information from our students directly,” Badenhop said. “The key areas of focus for the survey were how we treat plusses and minuses, how AP/CCP and honors class impact GPA, perceptions of 8-point versus 10-point grading scales, and how GPA-based recognition is viewed by and awarded for graduating seniors.”

89 students responded to the survey, and answered questions relating to those topics. Badenhop shared some of the clearest trends in the responses. On the graphs below, options range from one, which is strongly disagree, to seven, which is strongly agree.

Vexed valedictorians: Based on the 89 responses to a recent poll of Juniors and Seniors, many students think that the roles of valedictorian and salutatorian have “no effect to negative effect on their classmates’ mental health,” according to Badenhop.
Stressful competition: A curve from the recent survey of Juniors and Seniors shows that many students feel more stressed by competition with other students.
GPA goals: The results of a question asked on the recent survey of Juniors and Seniors showed that the vast majority of the 89 respondents viewed their grade point averages as very important.

Other results show that students support a transition to a 10-point grading scale, think that honors courses should have a GPA add-on and would not support GPA points being different for pluses and minuses on the same letter grade.

“We do not have any specific changes to propose at this point,” Badenhop said. “If at the conclusion of the process there are changes to recommend, the committee would propose these to Dr. Ramey [,superintendent,] for his review and consideration.”

At the end of the day, Badenhop says, the district is just trying to do what is best for the students.

“If you are giving your best each day and being intentional about your choices, you are going to leave Oakwood prepared for what comes next in your life,” Badenhop said. “While stress and competition can be a part of life, I wouldn’t want any student to believe that this percentage point or that percentage point in a class you’re completing at age 15 is going to dictate your life outcomes.”

However, not every school has the same level of academic intensity. According to the National Center for Education Statistics website the national standardized grading scale is 10 points. Additionally, not every school offers the same number of AP courses.

At Burbank [High School] it was a lot of not caring and doing the bare minimum,” Porsche Ashley (12), who moved to Oakwood from California in June 2018, said. “Oakwood academics were a lot harder than I had expected. I found it hard to catch up with a lot of the workload.”

For some students, the pressure and workload placed on them can be overwhelming at times.

Some days it feels like I am drowning in work and that the school work is put ahead of any sort of mental health and relaxation,” Ashley said. “I normally have 2-3 hours of homework a night, plus studying for upcoming tests and on top of that college apps.”

However, others feel that the rigorous academic setting can be beneficial.

“I believe it’s better to be over prepared than not prepared at all,” Maddy Myers (12), who currently takes most of her classes at Sinclair Community College, said. “Oakwood cares a great deal more about grades and academics than Sinclair does. Students in college care more about passing the course than acing it.”