Ris Reacts: Merrimack School District Makes Decision to Not Grade Homework


ris reacts-pinkMerrimack School District recently made a decision to change their rules on homework grading policies. Previously homework was graded based on the number of correct answers and now the policy will be grading only on completion of the assignment.

The argument behind this decision is that students are not learning the information but merely writing down the correct answers to receive full credit for the assignment. This has resulted in students not learning the curriculum and doing poorly on exams.

The solution to this is changing homework to a completion grade where students are able to attempt the assignments without fear of being marked down for having an incorrect answer. This is a step in the right direction in helping students succeed in the long run.

When I took an Accounting course last spring homework was graded on a completion basis. The downside of this policy is that I kept getting 100’s on my homework regardless of the fact I was doing the work incorrectly.

What needs to happen along with this policy change is homework will need to also be reviewed during the class period its due. This will help students know if they are on the right track or if they need to spend extra time with a teacher to learn this material correctly.

While it was definitely frustrating to think I did my Accounting homework correctly initially, it was much more beneficial to receive the completion grade and go over the homework in class so I could relearn the problems correctly.

This decision within the Merrimack School District seems to coincide with “Competency Based Grading” techniques that are being progressively implemented in high schools across the country. Competency Based Grading works to reinforce concrete skills by keeping learning extremely fine grained.

At my high school, John Stark Regional, Competency Based Grading was slowly implemented through my four years. Traditionally this style was used in Mathematics courses alone, where students could retake Learning Targets they did poor in to receive at least a “3” or “4,” equaling to a 75% or 100%. If the student received a “1” or “2,” they were required to retake the Learning Target until they received a “3” or “4,” proving the student learned the information thoroughly.

In my junior year, this form of grading was formally used in all of my courses. I believe that Competency Based Grading is helping students succeed in the long run by insuring they are well-rounded in all of their subjects after their twelve years of schooling.

If you want to take the fun and enjoyment out of anything, put a grade on it. Grades can stress out a student of any age, removing the true purpose of being in class: learning. While it is important grades are given to students to provide progress, students should not be stressed about being graded poorly on a homework assignment they are struggling in.

By changing homework to a completion grade, Merrimack School District begins the path of producing successful students across all subjects.


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Marissa is an alumnus of the New England College Class of 2019. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with two Bachelor's Degrees in Communication Studies and Business Marketing. She was the Editor in Chief for The New Englander from 2018-2019 and wrote many pieces across all sections while also managing the website, social media, and designing print editions. Marissa currently works at Amoskeag Health in the Advancement Department as the Content Marketing Specialist.
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