Bryn Mawr, The Number Matters

Bryn Mawr, The Number Matters

By: Brian Nelson

Every high school student knows that grades matter. For better or worse, one of the main reasons for this is college. If you have ever been to a college information session, you know the number one thing colleges look at are transcripts. This hyper focus can cause students to become obsessive over numbers and grade point averages instead of the material that they are learning.

To combat this problem, the Bryn Mawr School enforces a policy in which students are not allowed to view their grades until they are released for the quarter, according to my current history teacher at Bryn Mawr School, Dr. Irina Spector-Marks. “Grades can exacerbate the hyper focus for students around the numbers, so we don’t show students their grades [to combat this problem],” Spector-Marks commented.

 Bryn Mawr Assistant Headmistress and Upper School Director Ms. Jennifer Galambos, explained, “We don't open our computer gradebook so that students can access their grades on a

daily basis, but we absolutely do share quarter and semester grades and comments with students.” Furthermore, Bryn Mawr senior, Haley Reitz (’17) simply expressed, “You have to wait until they come out,” in response to a question about grades and when they are released at Bryn Mawr. This has been my experience over the past two years at Bryn Mawr; I have not been allowed to view my grades before I saw them on my report card.  

As a whole, to me this policy seems counterproductive. Bryn Mawr is punishing students for a systemic problem that transcends simply the pupil. The focus on grades is a product of the system, not the students themselves. Students have the right to see how they are performing in a class throughout the semester. It is understandable that some teachers wish grades were not so important; unfortunately our world is one that is driven by results and evaluations.

Gilman School President, Matthew Tomaselli (’17), who is currently enrolled in a course at Bryn Mawr, remarked on Bryn Mawr’s policy, “We live in a world where the number matters a lot, that’s a fact. I think it’s unfortunate, but the number matters a significant amount, so we should not be trying to hide that number before it is too late. I think the policy leads to more problems to try to stop a problem that the students did not create. So, no, I don’t think it’s a very effective policy.” On the other hand, in regard to his experience with Gilman teachers and their communication with grades, Gilman student, Matthew Katz (’17), said, “I either go to them and they show me on their computer what my grade is or I email them to send me their grade and they email it to me.”

According to Upper School Head, Mr. Rob Heubeck, Gilman has an open door policy when it comes to grades, although the specific policy of teachers can vary. Students are allowed to view their grade when they ask their teacher, no matter the class. Students can also ask their advisor for their grades. In the end, it is not the fault of the student that external forces put so much pressure on excelling; after all one of the fundamental values of Gilman is Excellence.