The Reality of a Pass-Fail System at NAI

Exploring the possibility of a different grading system while quarantined.

The pass-fail grading option has been the most recent topic in the discussion of remote learning. 

During our stay at home order, schooling ideas regarding whether or not North Allegheny, like many colleges, should adopt the option of a pass-fail system. The pass-fail grading system has been an outlet used by many colleges to de-stress students and allow them to adapt to the recent drastic change as well as allowing students to focus on outcome as opposed to the letters on Tyler SIS. 

Pass-Fail schooling, embraced by colleges nationwide allows students to continue their schooling for the rest of the year without fretting about their GPA. A student will either pass or fail a class opposed to the traditional lettering system. Typically a “C” or higher would constitute a pass and anything lower would be a fail. Many schools, however, are giving their students the choice to display a letter grade or a simple “pass” on their transcripts.

The schools engaging in this form of remote learning understand that it can be very stressful and difficult to learn during the woes of a global pandemic. Therefore, most students are opting to participate in pass/fail grading if given the choice.

Although this idea may seem like a gift to all students, some are worried about how this could affect their future. The fear is that if a college student was trying to raise their GPA to get into Medical or Law school, it might not seem as impressive if colleges only see a pass. This can be translated to highschool students trying to raise their GPA for college acceptance if pass-fail is embraced. 

Ultimately the system is designed for student support during a global crisis, but this has led some to wonder, “Could NA embrace this in the future?”

This new system would allow for students at North Allegheny to focus and become accustomed to the dramatic change we have all had to make in recent weeks due to COVID-19. In most schools that embrace the pass-fail system, schools leave it up to the teachers to decide how work is distributed and what they collect from it. 

There have been some school districts in various states that have ended the academic school year altogether and this could provide a substantial amount of support for students, especially seniors who are worried about their GPA and how this will affect their college acceptance. However, if their GPA was in a bad place before pandemic struck, they could be in trouble.

There has been a multitude of high schools that have chosen to take on the pass-fail option however the majority of schools that have used this method of grading have been colleges and universities. The likelihood of North Allegheny using this is unlikely because it is a public K-12 school district. 

It is also important to note that because NA is a public school district, they would need legal support from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to enact such a drastic grading change.

The predominant factor that would cause a change in the North Allegheny School District, if the state permitted it, would be the focus on the mental health of our students. This could ensure a better mindset for students to work and not be burned by the global pandemic raiding our neighborhoods.