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The Current

Editorial: Pass/Fail grades needed to relieve stress of distance learning

Many Bruins are struggling to maintain grades with distance learning, and urge the district to switch to a Pass/Fail grading system. Artwork by Jordan Moore

While the world is in chaos, schools have been forced to move education online, and yet for the time being students are being held to the same expectations as if they were in the classroom. 

With so much going on, students should not be expected to put 100 percent effort into their school work, and the school should be more lenient with students than they are during an normal year.  

We at The Current believe that the Nevada Join Union High School District (NJUHSD) should switch to a Pass/Fail grading system for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.  

Schools such as our neighboring district, Pleasant Ridge, as well as the Ivy League college Harvard have transferred over to Pass/Fail grades, and the NJUHSD should take into serious consideration the option of doing the same. 

“The state of California is recommending that schools use Pass/Fail grades on end-of-year report cards because we have limited ability to truly assess our students’ independent skills,” Pleasant Ridge School District recently announced in an email. 

Students expressed their support for a Pass/Fail grading system for a variety of reasons. 

“I think that we should switch to Pass/Fail because this is a rough time for everyone right now,” said Junior Amber Bell. “We can’t expect everything to be the same in the midst of a pandemic. Some parts of students’ lives should be made easier. A lot of people are having trouble getting homework done on time and getting it done at all because of the change of setting, issues with family members at home, the temptations of home, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and lots of other problems.” 

Bell went on to explain the distractions of learning at home. 

“Frankly, there are a lot more important things happening right now,” she said. “Plus the fact I mentioned earlier that students are often unable to work as well at home as they do in school. At home there is work to be done, chores to do, people running around doing this and that, music and/or tv playing, and it is too much going on to expect someone to handle, especially when they haven’t had to do so before. Not to mention how easy it is to procrastinate, now more than ever. Not everyone is strong enough to map out times to get homework done, and not everyone has the time.” 

Senior Caleb Hurst felt as though a new grading system may relieve some of the ever present stress students are feeling right now. 

“It takes the stress off of students who learn better with teachers or don’t have internet access,” he said. 

Some Bruins, like Sophomore Alexa Tran, applauded teachers for their efforts but emphasized the challenges that remain.. 

“The teachers and staff have done an excellent job putting work together and contacting us,” said Tran. “However, classes just aren’t the same. Sometimes it’s hard to understand things and I feel bad constantly emailing teachers back and forth. There are a lot of documents and tabs/links to make sure we are looking at. I just feel behind at some things I used to be fine at when we used to go to school. I feel Pass/Fail grades will accommodate these issues. It puts less pressure on students when we are not understanding things.” 

“I need my teachers in person,” said Junior Uriah Salgado.

For some living in a rural area, it is hard to complete online work and maintain communication with teachers. 

“I think we should switch to a Pass/Fail grade because online school is a lot harder,” said Freshman Cody Lybbert.  “Most of the time I turn in assignments my teachers don’t even get it, so my grade has been dropping.”

Sophomore Jolie Hurd explained another idea, describing a way to keep the traditional grading system, but still make things easier for students.

“I think we should keep the tradition grading system because it still works,” she said. “Just because we’re at home doesn’t mean we can’t do the work. I know a lot of people have work… but we also don’t have to worry about waking up super early in the morning to get up and get ready for school. In my opinion, I truly think the teachers need to cut back on the amount of work they expect us to do in such a short time. [That would give] us the ability to keep working and helping our family during these hard times.”

Many who are in favor of keeping the traditional grading system  fear that switching will affect the scholarships and grants they plan to rely on for college. 

“I think it’s important to keep the A-F grading system to keep a semblance of normalcy, but also for the students going off to college,” said Senior Karissa Johnson. “Changing the grading system could change their GPA [Grade-Point Average], which would cause some students to lose scholarships and grants.”  

Junior Alyssa Downes agreed with Johnson. 

“I think switching would impact colleges because they are changing a lot of things for the juniors and seniors now, so they will learn to adapt, but having a Pass/Fail would be harder to see who’s actually trying,” Downes said.

Others didn’t feel as it would affect them, but worried that it may affect the futures of students younger than them. 

“As of right now, I believe that I am close enough to the end of my high school career that switching to Pass/Fail would not change much if anything for me individually, but I can see how it would do so for students younger than me,” said Senior Grace McDaniel.

Bell hoped that with everything going on in the world, colleges will take this event into account when deciding things. 

“It isn’t the student’s fault that a pandemic got in the way of their learning experience, and colleges will have to understand that,” said Bell. 

Johnson went on to talk about how it’s up to Bruins to implement Grit and succeed during this time. 

“Students should definitely be putting in the same effort as when we were in classrooms,” said Johnson. “All of our teachers are working so hard to get curriculums online and changing their plans that they had, so why shouldn’t we continue to put in the same amount of work that we have all year? Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you don’t have school work to do. Not doing your schoolwork will lower your grades and could potentially affect getting into college.” 

Freshman Brynna Vasquez held the hope that the district will make the best choice for everyone no matter what decision that may be. 

“I think whatever ends up happening is what is the best for our school,” said Vasquez. 

None of us expected this situation, and each student learns differently. For the sake of all students, switching to a Pass/Fail grading system is a beneficial and necessary course of action. If students, teachers, and schools work hand-in-hand to make the best out of this tough situation, we as a whole can survive this and continue engaging in meaningful education. No student should be left behind or punished because of factors that are truly out of their control.

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Editorial: Pass/Fail grades needed to relieve stress of distance learning