The trouble with rounding: Why an 89.5% just doesn’t cut it

Zak Jones, Section Editor

As the first semester wound down, the grades were cemented on those eternal report cards. Every student realizes these grades are serious. They go on your transcript and determine if  you are going to  Stanford or clown college. But finals are difficult, and it is no surprise masses of students are returning to teachers begging for that borderline grade to be raised.

Why not, right? Does a margin of five hundredths of a percent truly separate two separate levels of merit? The truth is, it does.

Consider this hypothetical situation. A young, promising genius has skated his way through school his entire life. He and everyone around him demand absolute perfection, but math has always been his bear. Until now, he has leisurly buckled down and slid by. Unfortunatly, difficulty increased and he is cursed with the burning stigma of a 88.34%.As a result, this student studies for the final fervently during long, sleepless nights, but to no avail, landing him at a tedious 89.45%.

So why not round up .45 to .5, and 89.5 to 90%? In any class, there is opportunity to gain half a percent all “border-liners” should have taken advantage of. That one homework assignment you may forget about, the single quiz the student blew off for an equally important class or some much needed sleep. Students do not realize those assignments are the extra-credit. These are the little assignment with the same potential to minimally raise grades as lower them.

In a less hard-lined approach, teachers may offer extra-credit if they choose, although students should not stand at neck-depth the whole semester expecting to be bailed out in the last two weeks. Just as well, it is over-optimistic to hope for an easy final. The final is an aggregate of all the knowledge, including forgotten homework assignments. Anticipating an easy final is like assuming the last mile of a marathon will be the least stressful.

Grades should not arbitrarily be rounded because they are “close enough”.  To the decimal place, grades are a reflection of overall performance and even the smallest granted percent is compensation for uncompleted work.

It may not be fair to work so hard and lose, but perhaps a non-rounding teacher put it best when he told his grade-suitors:

“I will round your grades up when they start rounding my paycheck.”