In coming years, Santa Fe Public Schools will shift away from the traditional A-F letter grading system and toward a 1-4 scale “standards-based” grading system. A few schools in the district have already made the change. Generation Next met with local educators and students, both in the district and out, to find out what they like and what they would change about their current grading systems.

Angela Mejia, sophomore at Santa Fe High

“Overall I think it’s all right. If I could change anything, it would be so students lose credit slowly for every day the work is late so they have time but still face some consequences. We had the 1-4 system at my old school; it was difficult to explain to my parents and demonstrating to get a 4 was nerve-wracking.”

Vicky Bonillas, English and AVID teacher at Capital High

“My current system is to grade projects by putting a focus on what I’m looking for, make standards goals rather than expectations. … I’m for the district shifting towards standards-based grading but definitely think Powerschool, for example, needs to be adapted, and we need to help students and parents ease into it. But if it’s done in the right way, it will help both teachers and students.”

Leslie Hernandez Ochoa, freshman at The MASTERS Program

“At my school, we use the traditional A through F. The only thing that I would say would differ from other schools is that we also use the ‘plus’ and ‘minus’. It does sometimes annoy me because while my grade may be considered acceptable, the occasional ‘minus’ makes me feel like I am not doing my best when I know I am. I would remove the ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ to relieve pressure on students, which will eventually drain and burn them out. I would also get rid of the letter F as it brings students’ self-esteem down and can make them even more unmotivated.”

Marvin Nogueda, Spanish teacher at Santa Fe Prep/Breakthrough Santa Fe student support coordinator

“I think the best grading systems focus on application of skills, not completion. At Prep, I’m fortunate to have freedom to set my own checkpoints within certain parameters. In my Spanish class, for example, my students’ grade is more than how much work they completed, and factors in students’ growth in specific language skills.”

Niza Estrada, teacher at El Camino Real Academy

“[The A-F] system categorizes students according to their scores and is used to calculate a student’s GPA. It definitely takes off pressure from students since a 90 or 99 percent are still an A. It is also easier to achieve, meaning a student can go from a B to an A rather quickly. I also like that it reflects the sum of a student’s overall ability because they are based on a cumulative score. Something that is discouraging to me about this system is that many times students will settle for a certain grade and just do a decent job rather than being motivated to work at their fullest potential.”

Rayvan Luna, senior at Capital High School

“I don’t think I’d change much, probably just how F’s work. Right now from 50 to 0 percent is considered an F, and say your grade drops that low for any given reason, it could be pretty difficult to bring back up to a passing grade because of the gap there is. As where A, B, C and D’s all have a 10 percent gap. Making it easier to get higher grades but not so easy to keep them.”

Josué Solís is a freshman at Capital High School. Contact him at

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