We Don't Need School Grades - Let's Take Care Of Our Mental Health!

We Don't Need School Grades - Let's Take Care Of Our Mental Health!

7 September 2022
Signatures: 11Next goal: 25
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Why this petition matters

Started by Braeden Peters

In all my years of studying, I have come to the realization of how obscure it is that the work that we put our blood, sweat and tears into is judged based on a letter in the alphabet. What’s worse, we hang off these grades for our life!

Hi there! I’m a student residing in Wellington, New Zealand and if you are anyone like me, then you are an average student and grades are your arch enemy! I have always felt alone, anxious and pressured when receiving grades I am unhappy with. Just a simple C- when I was aiming for a B+ can have a negative impact on my mental health, and it turns out that many others whether it’s at school, college, or university are like me. We can change this! Grades do not define you! 

Besides school, an alarming amount of people in New Zealand have mental health issues. Our country was top in the share of the population with mental or substance disorders in 2017 and top in the prevalence of mental health disorders globally in 2019 (OWID, 2022). Things get darker when addressing student statistics. New Zealand is top in youth suicide rates (MHF, 2022) and some institutions like Randatahi School around the country have doubled in depression rates since a decade ago (UoA, 2020). Are grades directly affecting this? Maybe, but there is no question that it would play a part.  

You see, when you are depressed, for example, receiving a bad grade reinforces this depression you may be feeling. There is a cycling effect. Depression then low energy levels then low school performance then bad grades then reinforced depression (SPRC, 2022). As I have discussed New Zealand’s shocking mental health statistics, this may be a common occurrence among students. As the cycle continues, this may make students quit courses or drop out altogether because it is damaging to their self-worth. Bad grades are problematic as a result. You can either be encouraged or disheartened by bad grades and if you are the latter, the downward spiral is inevitable. 

Not to mention, grades become more significant as you get older. If you are a primary school student reading this, you should be wary that some courses at university rely on you to not only get an average grade but a top grade. Bio-Medical, Law, and Engineering, all involve you getting at least a B+ to continue with the course. This is because there are too many people in these classes and the requirements must be higher as a result. Does that sound fair to an average student? Does it take into account the negative mental health effects that students may be feeling in these classes? I don't think so…

Here are a couple of alternative systems that will trump this letter-based system for the better of our mental health. The Finland education system has no standardized testing system. This means students are graded individually with a system created by their teacher, ensuring that feedback is specific to the student (Edu, 2022). This is pivotal for education growth amongst the youth and has contributed to Finland being widely recognised as one of the happiest countries in the world (WHR, 2022). Furthermore, Polytech serves as a New Zealand example of an institution that diverges slightly from the standard curriculum. There is increased emphasis on ‘failing’ and ‘passing’ over ‘F’ to ‘A’ as retrying a paper is widely encouraged and utilized. You can fail up to several times on a paper and the option to try it again will still be there (Polytechnic, 2022). This flexibility supports student mental health because the pressure is reduced. This is not a big change but Polytech is clearly attempting to break away from the standard New Zealand system.  

I know how it feels to try your hardest to only receive a grade, a letter of the alphabet, to make you want to crawl into a ball. This can change. Sign my petition, start conversations and social media campaigns, write to the government - do what you can to support this cause. There is hope for struggling students out there. Mental health should always be the number one priority. 

Thank you,

A fellow student 



(Aug, 2020). One quarter of high school students report depression. Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland. Retrieved from URL: https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/news/2020/08/13/one-quarter-high-school-students-report-depression.html

Dattani, S.D., Ritchie, H.R., Roser, M.R. (Aug, 2021). Mental Health. Oxford, England: OWID. Retrieved from URL: https://ourworldindata.org/mental-health

(2021). Sucide Statistics. New Zealand: Mental Health Foundation. Retrieved from URL: https://mentalhealth.org.nz/suicide-prevention/suicide-statistics

(2022). Consequences of Student Mental Health Issues. Oklahoma City, U.S: The Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

(Jun, 2020). Finland Education System. New Delhi, India: Leverage Edu. Retrieved from URL: https://leverageedu.com/blog/finland-education-system/#:~:text=The%20Finnish%20Education%20System%20contains,levels%20has%20been%20given%20below

Hunter, M.H. (Mar, 2022). The world’s happiest countries for 2022. Atlanta, Georgia, U.S: CNN. Retrieved from URL: https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/worlds-happiest-countries-2022-wellness/index.html#:~:text=World's%20happiest%20nation%20is%20Nordic,from%20the%20Gallup%20World%20Poll

(2022). Reconsiderations. Lower Hutt, New Zealand: Open Polytechnic.


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Signatures: 11Next goal: 25
Support now