Is grading in PE fair?

As finals draw ever closer, students at San Ramon Valley High School work their hearts out to prepare. Entire class periods are dedicated to forcing the fleeting memories of past lessons months ago back into students minds. All classes; Science, math, english, you name it, are preparing to give their students the ultimate assessment for performance. Even PE.


Freshmen in PE at SRV spend their last week of school before finals perfecting a dance. And for good reason too; how well they can dance, as well as run a mile, will account for 10% of their grade. This isn’t anything unique; Students around the country are graded in PE based on how fast or strong they are. Time and time again students are docked points in PE not because they were misbehaving or not trying, but because they physically weren’t able to meet the expected requirements. Is this really the way we want to be grading our students in PE?


Grading students based on athletic ability in PE is simply unfair. Instead, assessing students based on effort would make much for sense. Grades are a reflection of how well you do in school. They reflect how well you can work, follow instructions, and meet deadlines. Grades serve as a reference point for how well your doing in school. If you consistently don’t meet the criteria for assignments or turn them in late, then your grade will reflect that, right? Shouldn’t it be the same for all classes, including PE?


While grading students in PE based on how well they can complete assignments (running, performing dances, etc.)  initially makes sense, the problems with it arise as you consider what grades are for in the long run. In the end, your grades are used to get into college. Colleges mainly look at your grades to see how hard you work and how intelligent you are. Your final grades include PE. If you don’t do well in PE, your final GPA that colleges look at will be affected. Just because you physically weren’t able to complete a task in PE doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard and do well in school, things that colleges look for in graduating students. Because of this grading system, were making students who aren’t as physically capable as other students worse off for college.


Additionally, colleges don’t have anything to do with PE. Unless you’re playing sports, colleges don’t care how fast you can run the mile or how many pushups you can do. Even then, colleges look at how well you did in the sport that you play, not how well you did in PE. Making PE a weighted part of high schooler’s grades is not fair to students. It just doesn’t mean anything later on in education, so why should it affect grades?


Some people argue that scoring poorly in PE will encourage kids to do better and be healthier. After all, that’s the whole purpose of PE. In reality, this is more likely to discourage kids than push them to do better. It’s like punishing a child for being worse than average instead of encouraging them to do better. And, in many cases, improving is not really possible. Kids with asthma can’t do anything about it. Not to mention,  becoming healthier takes a lot of time and commitment. If you can’t do the average amount of pushups PE requires students to do, doing them occasionally only a few times a week in PE isn’t going to help you at all. The organizations that create the fitness tests that are commonly used to assess students in PE advise against using them to grade at all.


Instead of the current system, grading based on effort would be much fairer. Students who attempt activities to the best of their ability should receive as good grade as anyone else in PE. The truth is, while not everyone can be good be at PE, everyone can try their best. With the effort based system, students who aren’t as fit as others can strive to try their best and improve without being punished. Colleges want to know if a student is hardworking and tries their best. With an effort based grading system in PE, all a student’s grades can reflect that.