LHS Should Adopt a Pass/Fail Grading System


Phoenix Pittman, Staff Writer

The COVID-19 virus has taken the life of over 45,000 Americans and infected over 800,000. The virus has caused universities and high schools to shift to online learning methods to prevent the spread. Certain academies like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Georgetown University, and the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Arts and Science, and even some high schools are opting to choose a pass/fail system to relieve the stress of and alleviate grading issues that come as a result of the crisis and the lack of preparation for online learning. 

Lindale High School should follow in these universities’ footsteps and adopt a pass-fail system to stop students with more privilege from cheating, help students who are hit the hardest, and ease the bumps from such an instant and drastic shift to a new method of learning. 

Online learning allows a known problem to run rampant and unchecked–cheating. Take for example a student who has two computers or two monitors. This student can have their test on one monitor and Google on the other, searching every question and using the search result for the answer. Even anti-cheating strategies like the LockDown Browser would not work in this scenario because even with this technology, one can use another device that the lockdown browser cannot affect. Online learning adds gasoline to the flame of cheating and allows people to skyrocket their grade point average with the more resources they have where GPA, during this crisis, would only measure a student’s ability to Google, rather than a student’s ability to gather, process, and apply the curriculum. 

Assuming that assignments can be assigned with trust, and that students wouldn’t cheat, this ideal scenario still would not accurately reflect learning. This scenario would reflect a students’ internet speed because only with a secure internet can a student access a Zoom call or watch a YouTube video easily. For example, if the connection to a Zoom call is weak, the voice of the teacher (to the student) would sound mumbled, incoherent and robotic resulting in a struggling student becoming ever more frustrated and stressed. Without Zoom, the student and teacher would communicate via email which breeds its own set of problems.  Take this back and forth battle between the student and their internet and apply it to every email conversation, every Zoom call, every week and you get a jumbled system where Skyward simply reflects a students’ internet connection rather than a student’s work ethic or learning. 

Some would argue that a pass/fail system would harm their chances of getting accepted into higher learning institutions;however, our GPAs would be frozen during this time and our grades during this semester would not affect our chances of entering higher institutions. The only time that a pass/fail system would harm that chance would be in the long-term but insofar as this is just a temporary solution, that would not matter. 

Due to cheating and classism killing the accurate measurement of a GPA, LHS should institute a pass/fail system during the Covid-19 crisis.