Bonus points – how many should be given out, should they be offered at all, how fairly are they given, and can they be abused? Every student knows that more than once they have needed a bonus point here or there. After all, bonus points are the final push that can save a grade or improve an already stellar one. So how do students earn bonus points across the grades and within their classes?
First and foremost, should bonus points be available more frequently in academic classes rather than in honors classes? The students we interviewed were at a consensus that the ratio was far from balanced. Freshman Cole Logan remarked, “I think students who do more in terms of academic achievement, such as taking honors classes or doing GATE, should be rewarded for their hard work and receive more bonus points. Although right now, most teachers give out more to academic students, which sets unrealistic standards for honors students to the point where they cannot make up their bad grades through any means.”
The reason bonus points aren’t provided in these higher level classes? Some teachers believe that if bonus points were offered, it then takes the meaning out of their assignments and might even let students opt out of completing them. Freshman English teacher Mrs. Barkovich explained, “I feel like my course, all of the skills are so interrelated that I’ve just found over the years that a bonus kind of takes the emphasis away from what I’m trying to get them to do.” A few select teachers don’t even provide bonus points to academic or honors courses.
In addition, bonus points are also seen as subjective. If they apply to the course and work well with it then they should be given. However in some classes they do not function appropriately and are in fact counter productive. Freshman World Geography teacher Mrs. Maisner commented, “Years ago, I did allow students to do work to earn bonus points, and what ended up happening is that a lot of times students weren’t completing the content work, they would just want to do the bonus point work, so they were losing the foundations of my class.”
This counter productivity in classes can also be seen when a student who works diligently receives no bonus point, while one who is a bit of a slacker can just earn them with next to no effort. But for every student, bonus points are seen as a necessary evil, one that may cause frustration but without the option at all, many students grades would suffer. Freshman Lucas McDonald said, “I think bonus points are crucial. Like, if you have one off day they help make up for your mistakes. So if you are good nine out of ten days but you have one bad day, it is only fair that you can have some opportunity to fix that. Especially if you are an honors student and are trying to maintain your GPA.” So how most schools deal with bonus points, and how many of our students would like to keep it in this school, giving out bonus points is a helpful privilege handed out voluntarily by teachers to courses that need them and to students that deserve them.
Freshman student Grace Connelly’s grade (seen above) for a two hundred point Spanish project; five bonus points were awarded to her for presenting first out of the whole class, while the rest were from bringing in visual aids to make her presentation more interesting.
Freshman student Isabel Thompson’s extra credit Biology assignment, where she was awarded 10 extra points just for completing simple questions and filling out a chart.
The Spanish class syllabus where the guidelines for receiving bonus points are stated and given to students on the first day of school.
The “Caught Not Bought” creature tank in Mr. Shriver’s academic biology classroom. With this extra credit opportunity, students have the chance to earn bonus points for bringing in aquatic creatures for the class.