Point-counter-point: Letter grades for distance learning

September 2, 2020

Park plans to use standard letter-grades during the start of the year, including for distance-learning.

Adjusted schedules should mean adjusted grades

As teachers and students prepare to start the 2020-21 school year with distance learning, the recent decision by the school board to keep traditional grading is unreasonable considering nothing else will be staying the same. These are unprecedented times, and adjustments need to be made accordingly.

The traditional grading system has brought students stress and anxiety for years. The stress to get A’s and B’s in school is overwhelming enough on its own, but in the midst of a pandemic, this pressure is too much for students to handle.

The school board’s decision to keep the traditional grading system was made, despite implementing pass-fail last year during distance learning. This system allowed students to have less anxiety about not being able to keep grades up while trying to learn at home, which is far more difficult than learning in school. 

While there may be concern for the students who feel they can ignore and not do their work in a pass-fail system, it would actually benefit those who do not have an ideal situation at home to learn and complete all of their work. This would help students not fall behind if they cannot complete an assignment or two. This also applies to those who have to provide income for their families and work. Living in a pandemic is stressful enough, and students don’t need the added pressure of completing every single assignment on time. 

Another concern is that students don’t get the chance to raise their GPA. However, with pass-fail grading, students are still able to view their percentages for each class, which they can show colleges or potential employers. 

In these times of tragedy and fear, it is hard for anyone to continue with their normal lives, especially students. Although the workload has been reduced, it is still difficult for a lot of students to focus on their work because of boredom from isolation and lack of interaction with teachers, not to mention other responsibilities such as jobs. Because of this, the work students turn in could be of lower quality than what they usually turn in. Students will only be able to keep up with school if the pass-fail system continues.

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Letter grade system has many benefits

The decision to keep letter grading is more beneficial than using pass-fail grading which would allow students to be negligent and end up getting left behind. Pass-fail grading could also cause confusion and a false sense of comfort as to how a student is doing in school.

Pass-fail is more beneficial to students who do better with in-person learning, have poor internet, struggle with mental or physical health issues, and so on. Although these are good reasons, pass-fail is just a school approved way for students to be careless about their school work.

Having the pass-fail grading system would allow students to pick and choose what assignments they do. With pass-fail, teachers would have a difficult time figuring out if students are being neglectful, or if students are genuinely struggling. 

Under a pass-fail system, students can end up getting set back when they choose to skip assignments. The many high schoolers that choose to do so will encounter a slow or fast decline in their grade percentage, and will more than likely end up falling behind their classmates and struggle to get their grades up. This will end up negatively affecting the student with numerous consequences such as getting held back or being put in summer school.

By choosing to stick with the letter grade system, students will feel obligated to try harder. The letter grade system lets students know how they’re doing, if they can see how they’re doing they can know what they need to do better and work on improving.

The letter grade also easily helps parents know how their child is doing, as they are accustomed to this grading system. The pass-fail system could also lead parents into a false sense of security that their child is doing well. This is because a simple pass or fail doesn’t show parents if their child is doing well or not, what they see is a pass means their child is doing well, even though that might not be the case. 

Overall, there are more disadvantages than advantages to the pass-fail grading system. Switching to pass-fail can cause confusion and a big drop in students’ grades. Sticking to the letter grade system shows students where they are and gives them the motivation to improve on what they need to. It also shows parents where their child is at. Overall, the letter grading system is more beneficial to the student and the instructor.

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