Opinion: Grading a grading system


Photo by Alexander Cha

It’s no secret that the pandemic has heavily affected education. Many students across the country have had to make the change to online school, which is often considered to be more difficult environment to learn in. This new style of learning brought a myriad of new struggles and challenges for students, and, in response, many colleges across the United States attempted to adapt. The way they did so was through a rehaul of the grading system: implementing the pass/fail system. At the end of a semester, rather than receiving a letter grade, a simpler pass or fail would be given to a student’s work. While it may have eased some pressure for students amid a global crisis, I do not believe this grading system will be effective in the long run, and it may even prove detrimental with time.

It would only be harmful to replace the current system in favor of one that is more simplistic. Ranging from A to C then skipping to F, the traditional letter grading system is supposed to show how well students have performed academically and give a more detailed look at their academics. To replace this system with a simple pass or fail one, eliminating this level of detail, would give far less insight into someone’s strengths and weaknesses and would indicate nothing other than whether they can pass a threshold.

Implementing a pass or fail system would also heavily reduce competition and incentivize laziness. While yes, it is much more laid-back and takes away a lot of stress, academic competition exists for a reason. A more detailed grading system would encourage more competition between students and make it easier for colleges to pick out the top students. Competition would get the best students from certain fields into their jobs, getting the best students for certain careers. You wouldn’t let a surgeon who is barely passing to perform on you, butith a pass-fail system, it’d be far harder to filter out those with poor performance. Not only that, but a lack of academic pressure encourages students to be lazy and do the bare minimum to pass, as it no longer matters how well they do— so long as they don’t fail.

Speaking of laziness, a pass/fail system may cause students to develop unhealthy study patterns and habits. As someone who already struggles with procrastination, this is the opposite of what I, and many other students, need. Such a laxed system would cause students to procrastinate more and only complete a bare minimum for the class. While I would love to have a more relaxed system with less stress, a system so lenient would encourage me to procrastinate more and develop habits that would harm me as an adult.

A pass-fail system would be extremely counterproductive to how academics currently work , and I heavily prefer the more detailed, competitive letter grading system. While pressuring, there is such a thing as healthy pressure a push to keep up with one’s work. A letter system is the way to go and the way in which the grading system should continue.