The issue with a “passing” grade


By Michael Hartt, Page Editor

On April 13, Rebecca Fannon, the Grosse Pointe Public School System’s Community Relations Specialist, unveiled a new student-centered approach to grading that will take effect until the end of the school year.

The grading changes include canceling final exams, combining the third and fourth quarters to create one marking period, restricting teachers from increasing expectations for students while they are participating in online learning and allowing students to choose to receive a pass/fail grade instead of a letter grade for any class.

While the first three changes sound perfectly reasonable given the situation, allowing students to receive a pass/fail grade for any class, without demonstrating an extenuating circumstance, is destructive and irresponsible.

Even though there has been no official count reported of how many students are participating in online learning, many students that I have spoken with or interacted with on social media say they aren’t planning to do any of their work because they can get as low as a D- and still pass a class

This lack of student motivation is a critical problem within the school district right now because the skills that students learn in school continually build upon one another.

If a student was only attempting to pass an honors algebra two class with a D-, for example, and as a result, they didn’t do any of the trigonometry work that is traditionally assigned during the first half of the fourth quarter, they would not understand half the content of their honors precalculus class the following year.

Missing school assignments over an extended period of time could have even more serious consequences, like negatively impacting student’s future standardized test scores or causing them to not get into the college of their choice.

That is why, I think that the district should amend their grading policy for freshman, sophomores and juniors, and require that they receive the letter grade for their class. However, if a student has limited access to technology or has a family member impacted by COVID-19, I think it is perfectly acceptable for them to elect to receive a pass/fail grade.

While I would argue that it is important that seniors continue completing their work in all of their classes, it doesn’t really matter because the curriculum they learn in college will almost certainly be entirely different than the one they learn now, and as a result, they will not be impacted as much.