With school years obliterated, districts are struggling to craft grading policies. Shrey Raj says his district’s raises thorny questions about equity and fairness.
My first year into high school, and it was a wild one. A thousand new things, and a thousand new people. Years from college, and the pressure was building already.
And then came the virus. All of a sudden school was out. First for a month, then for two, and pretty soon, the rest of my freshman year was canceled. Just like that. A thousand questions flooded my head. But the biggest — what will happen to my grades? Weeks went by as the district scrambled to make sure that every child had access to an education. And then it was announced … grades would be on a pass/fail basis only. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors alike breathed a sigh of relief.
And then, three days later, our one assurance of a less stressful year to come was gone. The pass/fail plan was gone. Just like that. Instead, the board would be considering an opt-in plan. Students could choose whether to have a pass/fail grade or a letter grade. My heart stopped. On the surface, the plan was fair. After all, now the students had a choice. But beneath the surface, there lay so much more.
The opt-in plan was far from equality. Education was no longer about hard work or dedication. It was about privilege. Across our district there are families who struggle to make sense of the situation. Jobs are being lost. Money is running low. Old siblings must take care of their younger brothers and sisters. And it is the children of those families that will suffer at the hands of this plan. They are left in a dilemma. Do they take the letter grade? With their mountain of responsibilities, can they handle the pressure of school, can they really be cramming for tests, can they really make that A? Or should they take the pass or fail option, and risk being frowned upon by colleges.