Should MCPS implement the “pass/fail” grading system for semester 2?


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The MCPS board of education will be holding a meeting May 12 to decide on the marking period 2 grading system.

By Ella Kaminsky, Features Editor

Eight weeks ago, life for everyone in the United States took a turn for the absolute worst. As the Coronavirus continues to sweep the globe, not only is it severely affecting many people’s health, but each and everyone’s everyday lives have been altered. From being quarantined in our houses and not seeing any of our peers to having absolutely no clear schedule, WCHS students have been affected just as much as the rest of the world. 

School in quarantine brought an infinite amount of questions as nobody could have been prepared for a situation as crazy as this one. Many schools around the country have maintained their normal school hours, just over Zoom calls. A Zoom call is essentially a group video chat, in this case a virtual classroom setting. Most WCHS teachers have had the ability to choose how they want to continue with classes; most not using Zoom but instead online worksheets or pre-recorded videos. 

Many juniors at WCHS are stressing not only over how this semester will reflect their true effort and knowledge, but over the college admissions process itself. The third and fourth quarter grades of junior year are usually very important, as they are the last opportunities to raise your GPA (grade point average). For this reason, and many others, it is harmful to students to adapt a pass or fail system for this semester. 

Before Covid-19 hit the US, we had a full seven out of the nine weeks of our third quarter completed. This means that students across the county had seven normal weeks of learning, testing, and grading. If our semester just said pass or fail, someone who worked their very hardest for those seven weeks and earned an A in a class would appear the same as someone who earned a C. It is unfair for these seven weeks of fair and normal academic life to just be thrown away.

In addition, many students in the junior class have still not had their chance to take college entrance exams; the ACT and SAT. Many schools across the country are becoming test optional, which means there will be more weight on the student’s grades. 

Many are taking the stance that it would not be fair to give students normal letter grades because we are not in a normal situation. Nobody is in a classroom setting, nobody is able to go in during their lunch period and ask teachers questions and everyone is having to deal with this pandemic in their own ways and colleges know this. Although this is not a normal situation, everyone is unfortunately in it. 

A fair way to approach this shift of learning environments could just be allowing students to decide if they want a grade to appear; this is an option the Board of Education in Montgomery County is considering. If a student thinks that the grade they earned during online learning that fairly is representing them they can choose the letter grade; if not they can choose pass / fail. 

The Montgomery County Board of Education has released the four options that they will be discussing during their meeting on May 12. 

The first option is an unfair system of simply passing or failing each of your classes. This shows no difference between someone’s hard work to receive an A third quarter or if someone just barely got by with a low C. 

The next option seems fair, as your second semester grade would just be your third quarter grade. This allows each student to be fairly represented as their third quarter grade was generally fairly given. 

Option 3 is to take everyone’s third quarter grades and bump each one up one letter grade. This makes no sense and just seems to be inflation. If someone had a B in a class for the first seven weeks of a quarter, it is likely that is the grade they would have fairly earned; not the A which they would be given in this situation. 

Last is the option of a student choosing between their third quarter grade, or passing vs failing. As explained earlier, I think that this is our best option. 

In conclusion, as the craziness of Coronavirus is affecting everyone’s day to day lives significantly, many students are worried about the outcome of their school year. Students across Montgomery County are hoping for a fair system to show off their hard work and a pass vs fail system would not do this.