Teachers' Beliefs and Practices Regarding The Use Of Research-Based Pedagogical Interventions And Strategies Designed To Mitigate School-Related Student Stress Through Grading And Assessment at De La Salle High School (Concord)

Academic and social-emotional problems resulting from school related student stress has become more and more prevalent at De La Salle High School (DLSHS) in Concord, California. These problems have caused students to cope with their stress in a variety of destructive ways including reports of self-harm, the use of stimulants or drugs, and binge drinking (Pope, Brown, and Miles, 2015, p. 2).

Pertinent data from a survey recently conducted by the Stanford University Challenge Success program for DLSHS shows 42 percent of our students reported that a stress-related health or emotional problem caused them to miss more than one day of school. 75 percent of our students reported they were often or always stressed by schoolwork. 70 percent of our students reported that schoolwork often or always kept them from having time with family or friends. Finally, 96 percent of our students admitted to cheating or violating academic integrity at least once in the past year (Challenge Success, 2014). Given these academic integrity issues and social-emotional problems it was imperative for our learning community to better understand how we can guide our students in more effective and meaningful ways in order to avoid these destructive and counter-productive behaviors.

We sought to tackle a specific area with our inquiry project. In particular, we focused our attention on DLSHS teachers’ beliefs and practices regarding the use of research-based pedagogical interventions and strategies designed to mitigate and alleviate school-related student stress in the area of grading and assessment. By extension and relation, we also looked at the area of homework as it related to grading and assessment. Incidentally, examining grading, assessment, and homework are also part of the recommendations made by our visiting team during our Western Association of Schools and Colleges Ensuring Educational Excellence (2015) self-study report and accreditation exercise as key areas worthy of inspection. Since grades are the currency by which students equate their academic achievements, determine their intellectual potential (rightly or wrongly), and pin their aspirations of entering college, it was important for us to better understand the ways in which DLSHS teachers’ pedagogical actions affected student stress.