Pass/fail grading system details finalized


Image edited by Leland Culver

Berk Oto, Assistant Editor

Lab administrators have provided some relief for U-High students by finalizing details for the plan to switch to a pass/fail grading system.

Only year-end grades will be put on a student’s transcript, according to a letter sent to faculty and Lab parents and posted on Schoology for students by U-High principal Paul Beekmeyer on April 2. Year-long grades will be no lower than what a student had earned as of the end of the first semester. 

“On a report card, students will see a fall semester grade and a spring pass/fail and then they’ll see a year end grade that can be no lower than the fall semester grade,” said Noah Rachlin, dean of teaching and learning. “On the transcript it will just show the year-end grade along with a notation on how the school handled the global pandemic.”

While the spring semester can not bring down a student’s grade point average, opportunities may be provided by individual departments to bring it up.

“The grade of ‘pass’ does not carry any specific weight as it relates to GPA so it can not bring your grade up,” Mr. Rachlin said. “Students should expect that their teachers will explain in greater detail how grading will work in each specific course.”

According to Mr. Beekmeyer’s letter, semester-long classes from the spring semester will appear as pass/fail on transcripts, giving class credits to those who pass, but they will not be included in a student’s GPA.

A teacher’s midterm comments will likely carry more weight than usual for college counselors who will be writing recommendation letters for this year’s juniors, according to college counselor Sharon Williams.

This is an uncertain time so I don’t want parents and students to panic that we are not able to do things the usual way, because nobody is”

— Ms. Williams

“What we need to get from teachers, for letters, is a very robust reflection of what students are doing in their classrooms,” Ms. Williams said. “I would encourage my colleagues to be as thorough as they can within the constraints of time and energy that they have, while bearing in mind that these particular comments will be particularly important for us as we seek to put our students in the best light possible.”

Some students are happy with the administration’s decision, hoping that it will provide them with some relief in a time of uncertainty.

“As long as I can bring my grade up, I think this is probably the right move,” junior Gabriel Carter said. “I like that at least we can have one pressure lifted off us during these times.”

Ms. Williams hopes that students will not try less hard in class than they normally would, as learning this year’s subjects well will help get better grades in subsequent year’s classes.

She pointed out that U-High students are in the same situation as students across the country.

“This is an uncertain time so I don’t want parents and students to panic that we are not able to do things the usual way, because nobody is,” Ms. Williams said. 

She also encouraged students to maintain their effort.

“As a student I think the most important thing that you can do is to stay engaged. Stay curious, think outside the box to ask for help when needed and continue to be good students,” she said. “Don’t look at this as a time to slack off. If this was the term you were going to step up, keep stepping it up.”