Mark Polin, Reporter

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CESJDS has resorted to online learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.  Schools across the country have been using remote learning for multiple weeks, and upon the beginning of quarter four, Montgomery County Public Schools have switched to a system that allows high school students to either show a grade on their transcript or take a pass or fail for the final marking period. Some private schools in the area have also switched to a pass or fail system for the rest of the school year.

Is it time for JDS to follow in MCPS’ footsteps and drop the current grading system in favor of pass or fail for the fourth quarter?

The biggest benefit of going pass or fail is that it takes a lot of stress off of students who are overwhelmed with work every day, and who are feeling added stress from the pandemic. This brings a positive result where students can feel more in control of their school work because they only need to receive a passing grade, rather than a perfect one.

For some students, it is harder to complete work online. Personally, I realized that I learn way better in the classroom rather than online because it is easier for me to follow and participate. Therefore, letter grades are not an accurate representation of a student’s knowledge in a subject. 

Additionally, it is harder for teachers to assess a student’s grasp of the material. A pass or fail grading system would be beneficial because it doesn’t assign students to a letter grade that doesn’t represent the full extent of their knowledge. It also puts the teachers under greater pressure for having to fairly evaluate all of their students based on only what they can see on a computer.

Some students also have less time to do their school work because they have other household responsibilities, such as caring for younger siblings while their parents are working. The pass or fail system would allow these students to help at home without feeling the stress of trying to academically keep up in the same way they normally would. Additionally, in the case of WiFi or computer issues, students also wouldn’t be heavily penalized for problems that are out of their control, such as not being able to access Zoom calls or learning material. 

With a pass or fail grading system, I would be more willing to come out of my comfort zone and take risks in my schoolwork that they wouldn’t otherwise be comfortable doing. Pass or fail allows students to be stronger risk-takers and I may be more willing to participate in class discussion because getting the answer wrong isn’t as big of a deal when everything is virtual.

We already live in a very stressful time due to COVID- 19, so I ask the JDS administration: do you want to add more stress onto the overworked students or do you want to step up and help decrease the stress during this time across the board? 


This article has been updated.