Crisis claims casualty: grades

CVUSD students will not receive letter grades for second semester due to the coronavirus outbreak and distance learning, according to an email Principal Blaine Torpey sent families on April 7.

Students will either receive credit (“CR”) or no credit (“NC”) for their classes in the second semester of this school year. Those who receive credit will gain the five units towards graduation that they would normally have received with passing grades.

Various universities have announced that they will accept these marks on students’ transcripts, including the University of California and California State University systems. “Because no letter grade will be issued, students who are taking Advanced Placement classes or Honors classes will not be able to earn a GPA boost,” according to Torpey’s email.

This comes as school districts across the state and country have struggled how to deal with the problems of the sudden disruption of the normal class routine and structure. Responses have differed from district to district, and are still being created by school boards all over the state.

Los Angeles Unified School District, the largest in the state, announced that its students would not be able to receive a grade of F, and further that no student would have a grade lower than what they had on March 13, the day class became remote. California’s second largest district, San Francisco USD, has not yet released guidelines, though its school board has considered giving all students an A for the semester. Many school districts in the Bay Area have gone to credit/no credit or equivalent, including Oakland USD, Berkeley USD, Palo Alto USD, and West Contra Costa USD.

Some students support the grading change. “I believe all classes should be pass or fail given that students are having to learn the school’s curriculum from home. This is a drastic change for most students which will inhibit our abilities to learn and retain information, myself included,” said senior Bradley McKee. 

“I think CVHS should either make grades pass or fail or just not have them at all.  I feel like many people are feeling overwhelmed by the amount of homework every teacher is giving them. Many students don’t have access to reliable internet and electronics such as phones or laptops which makes it really hard for them to complete assignments and homework,” said junior Timothy Liu.

Not everyone supports the grading change, though, as some students feel like it will not accurately reflect the work they put in. “In my opinion, I am doing a lot of work that deserves more than a pass or fail grade. However I understand this is not an easy solution to make considering various circumstances,” said junior Sydney Kundert.

Despite its popularity with the students, some teachers have expressed dismay as they see participation rates plummet. 

“I do believe it has had a negative impact on overall student motivation and engagement,” said psychology teacher Jennifer Sitkin. “I have seen a huge decline in work completion since the policy was announced by the administration. For example, in a class with 33 students, over 90% of students completed the first few assignments and less than 50% completed that last assignment.”

Torpey acknowledges that students have been focused on grades and symbols of achievement, rather than on actually learning, but he believes this could actually be an opportunity to change that. Closing his email he said, “There is a hidden gift in all of this madness and that is we get to rethink why we are doing what we are doing and how we are doing it.”

43 thoughts on “Crisis claims casualty: grades

  • May 13, 2020 at 9:04 pm
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    I think that the credit/no-credit system is a solution, but also not. It is a good thing for many students who are struggling to find motivation and not doing well mentally, because it gives them a chance to still pass with as much work as they can do. However, students who are doing well and not only doing all their work but doing it well, are reviving the same grades as a student that puts in minimal effort. I feel at this time we have to be kind and accept people are being impacted differently by the circumstances and help each other out. A lot of students are really struggling to do their work and they shouldn’t be punished for that. It has defiantly been a big change to adjust to, and has impacted everyone differently.

  • May 13, 2020 at 1:29 pm
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    I believe that switching to the credit/no credit system is a good idea. Since we are learning new curriculum by ourselves at home, it can be difficult to fully grasp and understand concepts. Having this new flexibility with the way our work is being graded is really nice and takes some of the pressure off a situation that we had no control over. I appreciate that our school is holding students harmless during this unprecedented time and is understanding the varying degrees of student struggles.

  • May 12, 2020 at 4:57 pm
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    I think that the credit or no credit system is a bad idea. It is not fair to the kids that have A’s in classes. They worked hard for them. Now they get told that the highest grade they will get is a C in a class. They have wasted time and effort only for their grades to be C’s. It will also not make kids want to do school work anymore. Knowing that their hard work will only be seen as a C. I know that we are in a hard time right now but that should not affect our grades, time and effort.

  • May 12, 2020 at 9:46 am
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    I think that switching to a credit/no credit system is a good idea. Many students have had to go through a tremendous amount of stress to keep their grades up, but with credit/no credit, that amount of stress has gone down as well as participation. However, the decrease in participation is a loss on the students’ part because it is their problem that they decided not to learn and prepare for next year.

  • May 11, 2020 at 9:24 pm
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    I believe it’s necessary to have a pass/fail system at this time, because it wouldn’t be fair to give letter grades as we did before, now that school is only being done online, not to mention an abrupt transition from a physical to a virtual education that none of us are used to doing. I also agree that a pass or fail system might be better overall, compared to a letter grading system, as it would no longer be such a symbol of achievement. Often, students earn their good grades not because of their understanding, mastery, or progress in that subject, but simply because they spend extra time to complete all of the assignments with a goal to earn maximum credit. I think a permanent pass or fail system should be considered.

  • May 11, 2020 at 6:27 pm
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    I believe us students should be able to choose whether or not we can receive pass/fails or letter grades, especially if you know what you are capable of doing or not. Choosing whether letter grade or not could be your choice, and there would be benefits depending on what you choose and what your grade averages are. As it said in the article, California districts allow “CR” and “NC” to be accepted to California University Systems, but what about out-of-state colleges, or international colleges? If a student is a senior this year, and wants to go to an out-of-state college that doesn’t accept “CR” and “NC”, what happens then?

  • May 11, 2020 at 11:14 am
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    I think that this Pass/Fail system was a better option than continuing with traditional letter grades. Even though this means that students, like me, who had to put in extra work for Honors/AP classes don’t get the grade boost we were looking for, it makes it better to know that some of the colleges will accept the new system. The problem I see is the lack of motivation because grades were the reason why everyone pushed themselves, maybe even to the point of being overwhelmed. There wouldn’t be way to both ensure student attention and also keep a more forgiving grading policy without having the students want to be involved in the first place. In the end, it is what it is an we will just have to wait it out to return back to our old policy since it looks like most people decided to take advantage of this method.

  • May 11, 2020 at 11:08 am
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    I think all colleges should accept the pass and fail grades for this semester. while it’s sad that honors kids won’t get credit the system is to accommodate everyone. Knowing one missing assignment won’t fail me to take a lot off my mind. Kids are already stressed out so a pass and fail system helps ease that.

    -grace

  • May 8, 2020 at 5:12 pm
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    I’m confused on my behalf as to whether or not I support the new credit/no credit grading system. There are benefits but there are also a lot of drawbacks to this new grading system. Students taking AP and Honor classes have dedicated lots of time and effort into taking the class in hopes of receiving the rewarding grade boost and earning credit towards colleges. Yes, the UC system has agreed to accept the new grading system for most schools but it doesn’t change the fact that students put in countless amount of hours working towards an A. Additionally, it means that students have to work harder in order to stand out to colleges. However, I do understand that these are very trying circumstances and I believe that this is probably the best solution at the moment.

  • May 7, 2020 at 7:15 pm
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    Grades are fun and all (not really) and make us have mental breakdowns daily, but now that everything is pass or fail, well I just don’t really care about anything. I go to bed at around 8am and just don’t feel motivated or find a reason to do, well anything school. So other than grades, our motivation is a casualty too. But stress is basically a thing of the past, whether that be good or bad. Grades stress us out, whether you admit it or not, so having a simple system that doesn’t require effort and makes our grade overall more round, is to an extent calming. Cause to fail a class now, well that’s just talent.

  • May 7, 2020 at 2:48 pm
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    I believe there are both pros and cons to pass/fail grades. Some students do not have access to electronic devices or stable internet. In those cases, it is hard to keep track of assignments and receive support as needed. Many families are also struggling to stay healthy while in isolation, which in itself should be a priority. A credit or no credit grade gives students time to breathe, relax, and focus on health first. Despite all that, some students may disregard assignments all together. This of course results in inefficient learning. There is no one next to you seven hours a day making sure you’re working hard ; It is up to the individual student to stay on top of their work and study. Depending on the person, as well as their home situation, a credit/no credit system could be beneficial or harmful.

  • May 7, 2020 at 2:43 pm
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    I think that the decision of how to do grades for Distance Learning was probably very difficult because you don’t want to do anything to hurt students grades or future, but I think the administration made the right one. By sticking to letter grades while kids are having to learn material on their own and deal with their own problems at home and with school, it could end up negatively affecting their future as well as their mental health. It’s hard on everyone to stay home for so long and not be able to socialize, so adding the stress of having to maintain perfect grades while trying to learn in a completely new way could be very harmful to students’ mental health. Switching to the credit/no credit system takes off some of the pressure on students.

  • May 7, 2020 at 1:51 pm
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    We still are assigned a lot of work to do. The idea that school should start earlier next year is utterly ridiculous. Saying that the last month and this month should count as “summer” is misguided, we don’t have as much free time as we would and we can’t do very much anyways. Having a credit/no credit system is beneficial and addresses part of the problem. This is an opportunity we likely will never find ourselves in again and it can give us the chance to spend time with hobbies instead of being stressed about grades.

  • May 7, 2020 at 1:28 pm
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    I believe that the credit or no credit system is a good way to control grades. If we were to go on through the regular grading policy for the rest of the second semester, it would be a major downfall. With school now being online, having to manage grades through a screen can be very stressful. Yes, a lot of kids nowadays know quite a lot about technology but school was one of the one ways to take a break from our electronics and have some social interaction and participation. It would be unfair to those that were taking advanced classes and not being able to receive their grade boost but for the sake of virtual learning, there’s no other way it would be fair to others to put more loads of work over what we already have. There are a bunch of assignments but also a lot of complications. In my opinion, I feel less motivated to work on my assignments because of the credit or no credit system. But for the sake of learning I try my best to engage and try to get things done as soon as possible. I hope that this virtual learning will not just be something bad that happened but something to look back at and learn from. Some people may have a good study habit of working online but others may not. I believe this will be a great way for other to find some good out of this situation.

  • May 7, 2020 at 11:04 am
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    I feel that the pass/fail system being put in place was an overall good solution for both students and teachers. In finding a solution for what could happen to grades, It was important to incorporate variables like the level of difficulty there would be in adapting to the distance learning process. There would be many students struggling mentally with the impact social distancing has had, as well as the virus itself heavily affecting them and their families. The leniency the pass/fail system gives students who need it for physical health, mental, and technical reasons, room to breath a little in a period where most people can’t find the time to. There will likely be consequences of this course of action in one way or another, but, as a student, this seems like the solution with the least amount of repercussions.

  • May 6, 2020 at 10:31 pm
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    In my opinion, switching to Credit/ No credit was a step in the right direction. Many students struggled with mental health problems due to school even before social distancing and quarantine, and now some may not be receiving the help they need to continue working normally on their schoolwork. I feel like this is too difficult of a time for many people, some even losing loved ones, and these life changing distractions definitely affect the frequency of completed assignments. Also, the lack of structure in our lives due to the virus has subconsciously affected our motivation and the quality of work we produce.

  • May 6, 2020 at 9:43 pm
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    I think that some students may think that the credit/no credit grading is fair or is the best solution. While others thinks otherwise. I honestly don’t know where I fit in this situation. I’m a little bit of both because there is a flaw in the solution when you think about it. Students have other things they deal at home, whether it is good or bad they are more obligated to deal with their situations at home rather than school because it isn’t the environment they’re in. There are also circumstances where students are not encouraged to do the work because they’re not “forced” to or are getting a little push from someone. This is a win and lose situation because it isn’t the students priority when they’re told that the grades will remain as they were during regular school. Besides that, not all students learn the same way. Most students that I know of barely learn anything new during the distance learning. However, we don’t really have a choice but to deal with how the school systems put up a solution for the grading matter.

  • May 6, 2020 at 9:05 pm
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    The credit-no credit system is good because it helps with our workload and helps those who find it hard to be able to access distance learning. It also removes a lot of stress that people might be feeling. The one problem to the system is that it removes motivation to do work. If there isn’t a grade tied to the assignment, then it feels like there is no point in doing that assignment.

  • May 6, 2020 at 4:28 pm
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    Although there are many problems with the system that has been put in place it is one of the better solutions available. I personally feel like it is very confusing what is required in order to achieve a passing grade. As long as teachers are forgiving about the work this system should work fine for now. I hope that it does not continue for a long time though.

  • May 6, 2020 at 3:32 pm
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    I think the administration made the “right” decision regarding what to do for grades second semester. Although it may not fairly portray the work some students are putting in, at least it won’t do them any harm. This pandemic has drastically changed all of our lives and some students may not have access to materials to do online learning. Even if they are later provided with the necessary items, they’re going to be behind in their work. All in all, the credit or no credit grading method makes sure everyone is able to complete the rest of the year without huge harm to their grades.

  • May 6, 2020 at 3:26 pm
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    In my opinion, I agree with many others that think the pass or fail is a good idea. We don’t know the struggles of what other teens, children and adults may be going through right now. It’s an extremely hard time that we have to deal with and having a ton of assignments being graded harshly is not whats best for teens mental health right now. As well as some kids may not have the internet access or resources to complete certain assignments so I believe it’s best that people do what they can and stay safe throughout these hard times.

  • May 6, 2020 at 1:46 pm
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    There’s pros and cons to the pass/fail system. In my personal opinion, it caters towards the majority of students, almost providing a sense of grace and gift. It cuts the work load and it decreases stress. However, for the students that are motivated by grades, the pass/fail will decrease participation tremendously. Students will be aware that they already passed a course and received credit. As a result, they won’t see the point of attending class and to submit their work. It’s unfortunate but I think the students that do complete their work during this time of shelter in place, it will show in the long run and especially in the beginning of next school year. Great article!

  • May 6, 2020 at 12:48 pm
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    I feel as though this system is something that could be heavily improved on. Credit or No Credit for the 2nd semester is an overall decent idea in my opinion, but there are so many loopholes within this system. So many people could exploit these and simply get credit by not even doing any of the work from this quarter. Compare this to the work someone else actually put time and effort, only to receive the same grade. On top of this, the workload is immense. School really isn’t limited to the 7am to 3pm schedule I was experiencing anymore. Sometimes the workload makes people wonder, “why do this much work for only a credit or no credit, that colleges will disregard by the time we graduate?” On a side note, the actual experience trains you to be more independent and encourages responsibility among students, so it’s one of the benefits of a C/NC system.

  • May 6, 2020 at 12:41 pm
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    Being a student means there are responsibilities, and this is the time to show how responsible we can be to our teachers. Sure, it isn’t the same learning environment we used to be in, but we can be in the comfort of our own home doing our schoolwork. I have definitely adapted to these changes but I can see how some students would have some struggles doing their work. Instead of worrying too much about letter grades for this current situation, I think that this credit/no credit idea is a good solution. A lot of students are still participating in doing their schoolwork, but I wonder if the number of students not doing their work has increased as well.

  • May 6, 2020 at 11:52 am
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    I feel the grading system has greatly reduced motivation to do schoolwork. The pass-fail system plus overwhelming work from a few teachers can make students more rebellious by skipping assignments entirely. I know it would not harm me as much as others, but even I am losing motivation, only putting in half the effort in assignments I find difficult. However, I think this new grading system is for the best and will help students overcome the stress from the work their teachers give them. Students would be able to choose which assignments they want to do, as long as they do most of the work in that class, and still pass. I see this as an upside and a real breather for my education during this pandemic.

  • May 6, 2020 at 11:10 am
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    I think that credit/no credit is the best choice because not everyone is having the same at home learning experience. But also, I think that credit/no credit is a little bit broad. Like, I have no way of prioritizing any of my assignments because I don’t know which ones are more important. I also don’t really want to do the assignments because I don’t have any way of knowing how it benefits me.

  • May 6, 2020 at 10:58 am
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    I believe that the topic of grades during shelter in place proves to be very challenging, since there are many perspectives you must consider. I understand that not all students will have the same access to technology, making it more difficult for some to complete assignments than for others. However for students that regularly receive high grades, credit/no credit grades cause a tremendous decline in motivation, since their effort seems to be put to waste. At the same time, not having to worry about grades allows students to focus their attention on actually learning the material. Students have been gifted an opportunity to have more free time, which we should all take advantage of. Overall, I think that there is no perfect solution to how grades should be given during this time, so credit/no credit grades seem to be adequate.

  • May 6, 2020 at 12:05 am
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    This change to online school is actually a good time to embrace the extra time that comes with it. Back in March, many of us probably had feelings of needing more time to do things we didn’t really have time for. This essentially six-month summer break is an awesome time to do things like master math skills, take an online college class, or finally do that thing you needed more time to do.

  • May 5, 2020 at 8:51 pm
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    I think that it is a horrible idea. Despite the fact that I am able to participate in the online distance learning, I think that they should give those that are unable to should just get an A or an A+ (depends on the teacher) and not use the CR/NC system, and I do not think that it should be pass/fail either, and those that are able to participate in distance learning should get what they earned. IT IS LIKE SAYING THAT STUDENTS THAT HAVE DONE VERY WELL (e.g. the student has mostly A’s or all A’s) AND TELLING THEM THAT THE HIGHEST THEY WILL BE ABLE TO GET IN ANY CLASS THIS SEMESTER IS A C-, AND THAT IS LIKE GIVING EVERYBODY THAT HAS MOSTLY A’s OR ALL A’s ALL C’s for the semester. ALSO, SOME PEOPLE WILL NOT BE MOTIVATED TO WORK HARD ANYMORE!
    I can’t wait until the 2020-2021 school year begins and this CR/NC junk finally goes away on August 11, 2020.

  • May 5, 2020 at 7:52 pm
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    I am glad to have the stress of grades to be relieved during this unfortunate time; however, I am finding it quite difficult to have the self motivation that I once had with grades. It is interesting to see how many other students are struggling with this problem as well. I wonder how much the participation rate has decreased as it says in this article that the rates have plummeted.

  • May 5, 2020 at 4:12 pm
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    I believe that making the grading system credit/no credit for distance learning was the right decision. Students have been receiving a ridiculous amount of work from their classes and it is stressful. On top of that, learning from home can be a struggle because of internet issues, your family might bother you, and it might be harder for students to understand concepts. At this point, this new grading system makes learning fair and less stressful.

  • May 5, 2020 at 3:32 pm
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    I think that having credit/ no credit is a good idea because some students are already under a lot of stress because of all the changes we have gone through in the last few months. Not everyone has access to computers to do their work. It also gives students the option of working at their own pace. But I also think that for some students seeing that the semester is credit/no credit may cause them to lose motivation. I do agree that distance learning should encourage learning over grades.

  • May 5, 2020 at 2:07 pm
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    On the one hand, I believe changing the grading system from letter grades to pass/fail is a good idea, because learning from home doesn’t give everyone the same work environment, unlike school, and therefore some people are at a disadvantage. Students who are responsible for younger siblings or don’t have access to a computer 24/7 have a much more difficult time completing assignments. However, it is harder to be motivated to learn when our efforts are not accurately reflected by our grades. I think our third quarter grades should definitely be taken into account by colleges when they are reviewing our transcripts for admission, since they are the best measure of our progress this year compared to the credit/no credit grades we are receiving for the fourth quarter.

  • May 5, 2020 at 1:20 pm
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    I think it’s a good idea for the grades to be pass or fail because like it’s said in the article, not all students have access to the internet or a stable wifi connection so many might only be able to get what they can done. Many students who also have the role of being the older sibling have more responsibility especially if their parents are essential workers and they need to watch the younger ones, they would have less time for themself and not be able to get all of their work done. There are many situations that different people are dealing with at home, and everyone has their own things they need to deal with, right now is just a weird time for everyone so I think pass or fail is one of the best options to go with for now.

  • May 5, 2020 at 1:20 pm
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    I think the credit/no credit system will have positive and negative impacts on student education. I am thankful that our school district is not being as strict with grading in these trying times. With more lenient grading, the associated stress felt by many students is alleviated and they can now focus on learning for their own interests. However, this new system really doesn’t show an individual student’s work ethic. By basing our overall semester completion on our third quarter grade without displaying the letter grade, it shrinks the scale of student work ethic into two categories: those that completed at least half of the work during the third quarter and those that didn’t.

  • May 5, 2020 at 12:56 pm
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    In my opinion, it is a good idea that the grading system changed to credit or no credit. At school, there is a schedule that all the students follow. But during distance learning, it is hard for students to manage their own time with all the distractions around them. And without a well-timed schedule, it is hard to finish all the works. The change in the grading system removes a lot of pressure from students, and they can start learning for their benefit than letter grades. Students can also use this time to improve their time management skills. However, I think letter grades are still a huge motivation for many students to work hard. But for this situation, I think it is better to learn without worrying about grades.

  • May 5, 2020 at 12:52 pm
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    I can see both the pros and cons of making grades this semester CR/ NC. On one hand the students are having to do school assignments without the help of teachers and it does take some of the stress off, but on the other hand it seems unfair for the students who are taking advanced or honors classes. One of the perks of taking a higher level class is getting a grade boost, but now that the grading system has been changed to pass or fail the grade boost no longer applies and the students still have to do the harder level work.

  • May 5, 2020 at 12:34 pm
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    As a student, I feel that the decision to switch to a credit/no credit grading system ultimately benefited me. Of course there is the challenge of motivation and time management, but the overall stress of school I felt before the switch to distance learning has been alleviated completely. There should be consequences for ignoring school work, but some people are unable to get the tools they need to become involved in distance learning. I feel that the C/NC system is a fair opportunity for those individuals to get where they need to be. Like all decisions, there is a trade-off, but I think the decision to move to C/NC has been for the best.

  • May 5, 2020 at 12:21 pm
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    I think it is a good idea to receive a pass or fail grade for most people. I understand that not everyone has reliable internet or technology, so completing assignments are more difficult. Distant learning at home is also more challenging as it is harder to receive help than if we were at school. The workload is pretty similar to what is given at school, but we have more time to complete it. However, some students who work hard in advanced classes put in much more effort for just a pass or fail grade. I feel bad for a lot of juniors and seniors who worked hard in their ap/honors classes just to receive credit. Despite this challenging time, I am glad that the school has found a way for us to learn without the pressure of grades in the comfort of our own home.

  • May 5, 2020 at 12:21 pm
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    I think it is a good idea for most students to have credit no credit grades however, it is not beneficial for all students. For example, students in school with internet access and in regular classes may benefit from this because it is less work for the classes overall. However, students in higher level classes such as honors or AP classes can still benefit from this system but all their hard work in those classes can’t even earn them the grade boost they worked so hard for. I think our report cards or transcripts should show our third quarter grades and our fourth quarter credit grades so that we acknowledge those students who had worked hard to earn the grades they earned in third quarter.

  • May 5, 2020 at 11:47 am
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    I think that the grade system change is an overall good change for students. Instead of worrying about grades students are now focusing on learning material. Those who are not are simply robbing themselves of an education. I do think however that the way that our transcripts are being handled is flawed. I think that our transcripts should show our 3rd quarter grades along with the 4th quarter pass. This will allow colleges to see what type of student we were during the 2nd semester and make more educated assumptions about us.

  • May 5, 2020 at 11:14 am
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    I think it’s a good idea that students should receive no credit or credit. A lot of kids are overwhelmed by the amount of work they’re being given. I’m glad they’re taking it easy throughout this pandemic and colleges are accepting these marks. The grading system is pretty fair and accurate because at this point, despise COVID-19, it’s really up to you to continue your learning processes.

  • May 5, 2020 at 10:06 am
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    yea its hard to determine grades by effort when were in the shelter in place but if you dont do one assignment or project , i won’t know how negative it will affect my grade or if it will at all and us students do put in a lot of effort that should just be more than a pass or fail grade but right now a lot of kids are doing the minimum because people think of it as time off so i guess the grading system right now is for the best

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