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KHUDYAKOV: Extra credit sets dangerous precedent

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(VIKTORIA BARR/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(VIKTORIA BARR/EYE OF THE TIGER)

(VIKTORIA BARR/EYE OF THE TIGER)

NICOLE KHUDYAKOV

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In my combined one and a quarter years of high school, and the infinite wisdom that I’ve come to inherit in spades as a result, I’ve come to learn this: extra credit is exactly like Tinder.

Now, allow me a chance to explain myself. If you were to encounter extra credit on Tinder, it would be an almost automatic swipe right for most students suffering from a fatal case of the chronic overachiever or failing-grade-itis.

The nature of extra credit lends itself towards a low risk, high reward situation. If a student completes the assignment, they see a marked increase in their grade. If not, there is nothing to lose.

However, the issue with extra credit is this: in many classes, earning extra credit has little to nothing to do with the class itself. Instead, it’s an easy-going boost that allows students to lift themselves up to that unreachable, Mt. Everest-level A grade while barely lifting a finger.

Options for extra credit, such as collecting soup cans or bringing tissues have both come up in the search for alternatives to doing work and actually learning from it.

And while I – as one of said desperate students with a grade average to maintain – can’t claim that I don’t love basic, effortless work in exchange for a higher grade as much as the next person, I cannot in good conscience say that extra credit should continue to have little to do with the class in which it’s being earned.

Extra credit done with little relation to the class it’s being worked for seems to be a double-edged sword. On one side, there is a chance of redemption in the aftermath of low test scores and missed assignments. On the other side, there is an ultimately useless bunch of busy work that’s maybe half the difficulty of real assignments. Either way, both of these options do little to prove a student has learned much of anything – in fact, I’d say they’re more likely to increase dependence upon extra credit than make any sort of meaningful difference.

Thus the dilemma manifests itself and we are forced to figure out whether or not it’s worth keeping extra credit around in the first place, if it has such a discernible impact on our grades, without leaving any on our minds.

Luckily, it’s not up to me to make that decision. Instead, it falls on the shoulders of the school board. And, indeed, they’ve decided to do just that. According to a new district policy set to, hopefully, be implemented this year, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Jess Borjon hopes to terminate teachers’ ability to offer extra credit as part of a revised grading policy.

While I applaud Borjon for his decision and for his bravery in the face of what will likely lead to a small uprising of upset parents and students, I’d like to make an educated guess and assume that the likelihood of this mandate being broken, even after its official passing, will increase the closer it gets to either midterms or finals.

The decision may leave many students muttering about the unfairness of it all – while, at the same time, many may find themselves not impacted in the least. However, despite the obligatory complaints I may harbor at having my busy work taken away from me to make room for something that requires more than 15% of my brain, the decision to take away extra credit work entirely leaves more room to prove ourselves using our own merits and the knowledge we take away from the classroom.

At the very least, I will now have more of an incentive to study, instead of relying on the next canned drive to serve as the catalyst to bounce me back from a failing grade.

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