It's Not the Scores That Matter…It's How You Find Out About Them

Aidan Sarazen

Test grades of Latin students often get passed around like juicy gossip, traveling through the hallways  at the speed of light. If you’re an individual who enjoys keeping your grades to yourself, the Latin environment is a nightmare. Lack of privacy can be attributed to a combination of rigorous academics, heated competition between peers, and the small size of the Latin community. Although Latin is a top tier school when it comes to academics, students can be ruthless when it comes to the need to perform well. Unfortunately, this overwhelming desire to succeed prevents many students from giving others the privacy they deserve.

The test results that spread like wildfire are almost always the exceedingly high and low scores. Students who score well often receive heat for being overachievers. On the other hand, students who are on the lower end of the grade spectrum get pity from their peers, which only makes their situation worse. In both scenarios, somebody is always left feeling hurt.

As unrestricted and intrusive as common knowledge of others’ test scores is, it can also be viewed from a very different perspective. Some schools in China post students’ scores in the hallways for everyone to see. Of course, this can be a cause for great shame. However, these schools don’t aim to embarrass their students. The goal is to use competition and fear of humiliation to motivate students to do well. Is this tactic effective? More importantly, is it moral? Unquestionably, this strategy employed by schools is powerful. When asking Latin students whether or not their mentality would be affected if their grades were posted for the entire community to see, I consistently got the same answer. Out of the ten students that I asked, nine told me that they would be more determined to perform better if everybody could see their grades. Sophomore Michael Gross, one of those nine, summed it up perfectly. Michael said that “even though [he] would hate seeing [his] test score next to the score of [his] peers, the competition would drive [him] to achieve a higher standard of academics.” Most students, like Michael, would probably openly despise the system of posting grades. Subconsciously, however, they would be fueled to get better grades by the possibility of seeing their name appear at the bottom of the list. Regardless, it seems posting test scores in public would be an effective method of prompting students to improve their grades.

Some believe that the publicity of test scores isn’t morally right, while others think that it is a helpful motivator. Either way, every Latin student that I talked with seemed to agree on one thing- gossiping about others’ results cannot be stopped. Sophomore Julius Reiner thinks that “the natural curiosity of people is overwhelming,” and because of this, the spreading of assessment results can not be prevented. If it is inevitable that test scores are passed around, is there harm in posting results in public? Latin students seemed to agree that it would be unfair to post test scores in the hallways. Sophomore Henry Baldwin says that “unless someone actually agrees to their results being posted in public, their scores should be kept to themselves.”

As quick as many are to insult the method of posting test results in public, in reality, this strategy is not much different than how individuals at Latin currently spread their scores. The test scores of numerous Latin students already sweep the hallways through whispered conversation. How different would it be if test scores were posted literally?