Pass/no credit option provides grace

Grading system returns for third straight semester


Oliver Smith

Senior Sam Steffy meets with physics teacher Daniel Ruzek about a question on a test. Students are able to take a pass instead of a grade to reduce the negative impact a grade could have on their GPA.

Oliver Smith

My experience this school year has been even more unique than last year’s, with going back to five days a week at full capacity and the normal and less forgiving grading system. This past week however, I found out that the option of pass/no credit is available for the third semester in a row. The option was extremely helpful last year and I believe it will be this year too.

The first semester of last year was the hardest semester of my life. The inability to connect with teachers or classmates, the unfamiliar way of learning through a screen and having no social life were the clear and awful reasons. The challenge was too much for me and I took a pass in one class. What I felt after taking the pass, however, was not a feeling of guilt. Instead, I was proud of how good my other grades were and that I only needed one pass. The obstacles I faced in school last year were hard, and having the pass/no credit system made sense to me.

Except this year has been difficult too. I’ve missed nearly 20 days of school due to illness, many of my teachers have been in quarantine and I’m no longer used to how normal school works. While my grades have been very volatile, it’s encouraging to know that if I can’t get every grade up to where I’d like it, I can use a pass.

Even though I support having pass/no credit as an option, I really don’t want to use a pass. A common misconception about pass/no credit is it rewards students to do the bare minimum and gives them a pass for putting in minimal effort. In reality, if students only take passes, it can be harmful to college applications. Although colleges are being lenient with grades, most would prefer students to show as many grades as possible. Students have to be careful with how many passes they use because although it can be helpful, it could be damaging to their future plans.

This also helps teachers as it gives them a chance to get caught up on grading. Students with lower grades will possibly take a pass, which then the teachers would not have an extreme amount of late work to grade. Teachers could focus on current grading and not cram grading in at the last minute.

Overall, having pass/no credit as an option will be beneficial not only for students but for teachers too. The decision to have a pass/no credit is a good one and should be kept for the next semester as well as we manage through the end of this pandemic.