It is expected that the students of Science Leadership Academy demonstrate their knowledge by completing a benchmark for every class each quarter. Although this has been expected of the students since 2010, this requirement can be quite strenuous.
On average, an SLA student has five classes a day. That would mean five benchmarks due before the grading period ends.
Many teachers assign more than one benchmark per quarter, like History teacher Mr. Todd and English teacher Mr. Kay. Some even assign mini projects to be due as well. Some students find this workload to be overwhelming.
Junior Matthew Milligan explained the added stress that extra projects bring saying, “I can usually expect anywhere from 1-3 extra projects on top of other benchmarks. It really depends on the quarters because the quarters are different lengths.”
Despite teachers encouraging their students to take advantage of extensions, some students decide to just push through it and manage to complete all their work on time or a day late.
“I feel as though if I get an extension, that gives it more time for the projects to start piling up. I usually just power through it and get everything done.” Milligan shared. The consistency of when benchmarks are assigned has also become a problem for students like Milligan.
“Sometimes, teachers give benchmarks in the beginning of the quarter and sometimes they wait until the very end. One week I have nothing to do and the next I have six benchmarks due,” Milligan reported.
Teachers can be very unorganized and sporadic when it comes to assigning projects.
On the other hand, some students are able to handle stress better than others during benchmark season. Junior Kimberly Gucciardi-Kreigh is one student who has been able to effectively balance her benchmark workload.
“I know that for a lot of people it can be really hard to balance all of their projects along with things going on in their everyday life. But for me, it doesn’t seem to be a problem,” Gucciardi-Kreigh explained.
The average amount of time that Gucciardi-Kriegh is given to complete her benchmarks is at least a week. This is common among many of the students at SLA.
“I’ve never submitted a benchmark late or ever asked for an extension. I think that they can tend to pile up at some points. But I don’t ever feel as though I have too much going on at once,” she stated. Gucciardi-Kreigh also thinks that the deadline for projects is fair most of the time. However, other students align more with Matthew Milligan in their frustration with the amount of work that they’re getting. But sophomore Juliana Long is taking a slightly different approach to this problem. She’s giving suggestions as to how to fix this system.
“I feel as though when it comes to benchmarks, there are some kids who need more guidance and I think that some teachers need to improve their skills in helping kids and making sure that they have time to help them,” Long described.
Other students feel that there needs to be a change in collaboration. They think that teachers should try to plan more so that their benchmarks aren’t overlapping.
Teachers can feel to realize that students will have other work for other classes besides their own. “They have this mindset that we can work on their project one hour a night throughout the week, but if you have 6 other classes that’s 6 more hours of working each day,” Milligan says.
However, teachers have made an effort to work together so that their projects so they don’t pile up. History teacher Pearl Jonas stated that “We do try on our end to be transparent with each other. We have a benchmark calendar where we try to organize so that we’re not assigning multiple benchmarks.”
The calendar has helped the teachers a lot with organizing but it doesn’t always work out. “It’s an imperfect system.” Jonas admits. “If not everyone puts their benchmarks on the calendar, we don’t have a clear picture of what exactly is happening.”
Not all teachers will assign their projects during the same week, but it can be expected that students will receive more benchmark towards the end of the quarter because that’s when grades are due.
“I think that it’s inevitable that at the end of the quarter there’s going to be more benchmarks. We at least try to spread them out so that they aren’t due on the same day or even in the same week.”
There isn’t a concrete consensus on how many projects are too many. It comes down to several different factors. There are some quarters that are longer than others, so it’s easier to get things done in that specific span of time.
The number of projects that can be managed by one person depends on the nature of the projects, how they are interpreted, how much time is required and the person themselves.