Skip to comments.Dear Colleges, Please Let Grades Mean Something
Posted on 04/04/2020 9:12:35 AM PDT by Kaslin
Millions of college students will be closing out the semester from home, with online courses replacing in-person offerings. Due to the abrupt change, many schools are acknowledging the disruption, and associated changes in students’ circumstances, may lead to a decrease in academic performance unrelated to effort or intelligence, and are therefore instituting grading policies that provide appropriate understanding for the bizarre situation.
Many universities, including Georgetown, Duke, University of Pennsylvania, have extended the deadline for taking a class pass/fail until either the last day of classes or even a week after report cards are released. However, many student groups are not adequately satisfied with these modifications, and have demanded further concessions to the grading system. Two proposals have taken university students by storm: a universal pass/fail or a double A system.
The universal pass/fail removes any letter grades for the semester, taking away the student’s choice of allowing the classes to affect her GPA and earning a grade. The double-A system provides every student with either an A or an A-, at the teachers’ discretion. The idea was inspired by an English professor at Columbia University, who wrote an oped in the Washington Post, expressing her intention to give all of her students As.
Some schools have even caved into the requests, such as Harvard, Dartmouth, Columbia, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins, all of whom have made all classes pass/fail, robbing their students of a chance to earn a grade commensurate with the expended effort.
It is perfectly understandable why these alternative grading systems are appealing to students. Sending students home to replace in-person learning with online is admittedly disruptive, and the stress of a global pandemic and upcoming economic collapse will cause unforeseen stresses.
Nevertheless, these radical grading proposals are not the answer. In fact, they render the semester, and the students’ work, meaningless by removing any differentiation to account for learning or effort.
By either rendering every class pass/fail or guaranteeing an A-range grade, the universities are incentivizing students to coast through the rest of the semester. For upperclassmen, many of who are taking courses with little relevance to future coursework, this will not be a problem. However, the freshmen and sophomores taking foundational classes will still have to put in the requisite effort to understand the material for subsequent courses, but with no reward for this enforced extra effort.
Further, many schools transitioned to online after two months of regular school. By refusing to differentiate grades, the universities are devaluing all of the hard work accomplished by the students in the first half of the semester.
Providing students the options to take courses either pass/fail or for a grade is the best of both worlds. The world is a really scary place right now, and everyone is aware of that fact. No employer or grad school program is likely to hold taking a class pass/fail against a student during a global pandemic. However, for students who wish to earn a letter grade, or who need this semester to boost a GPA, they would have the option.
Further, in this absurd and frustrating time, it is important to hold onto any sense of normalcy. For many students, coursework and working towards good grades is the one salvageable aspect of pre-corona routine. Georgetown University made the decision Thursday to keep the pass/fail option strictly optional, in spite of a popular student petition.
I hope more universities follow in their footsteps, allowing students the right to have their grades and effort mean something.
Can’t because failing grades will cause the snowflakes to run to a safe room to sub-suffer in their humiliation.
What does an Ivy League education even mean anymore?
Lower affirmative action standards
Everyone gets an “A” or a Pass.
A = C on a real system, A- = F.
The idea was inspired by an English professor at Columbia University, who wrote an oped in the Washington Post, expressing her intention to give all of her students As.
I had one graduate level electrical engineering class like that. Although there was a midterm, the real grade in the class came from an individual project with a presentation of your work. About half way through the presentations the professor said "You are all doing a good job. I think you will all get As." Although I have to admit that those projects were very difficult and I probably spent more time working on that class than I did on any other in grad school.
Why would any legitimate employer give credence to any such studies? I wouldn't care if an applicant made straight A's in "Gender Equality." The course is less than worthless.
It means your family is important enough or rich enough to get you into an Ivy League school so you are someone to be treated well or even worshiped. < /I wish it was sarcasm>
Will the students also end up with a participation trophy, a gold star, a blue ribbon, and a juice box.?
That ship sailed a long time ago. It’s a little like fighting inflation by devaluing the currency to zero. Which does work, I suppose...
Grade inflation at many universities has made As and Bs the only grades handed out anyway.
MI Gov Half Whitmer signed a order that all high school seniors will graduate, even without the last 2 months of school and no final exams.
Yup, even the ones flunking out. Everyone gets a diploma!
As future hires...2020 will be known as...The Class of Dumb@$$.
As with all expensive schools: Parents pay a high price and demand a high grade because they see a high grade as high performance by the school.
Flunk little Johnny and the parents stop paying for the school.
Once upon a time, I taught a graduate course at a leading university with tough exams and tough labs. EVERONE received an A! They all got As because they all deserved them!!!!
This was a highly unusual situation, with highly motivated and talented students. My graduate and postdoctoral assistants and I were also highly motivated in designing and teaching the course.
No faculty member should give out only As, unless that is highly justified! And being a “snowflake” most certainly does not make one deserving of an automatic A!!!
A - F always worked as did the 0 - 4.0.
You knew where you stood at and that never used to hurt anyone’s feelings.. then came liberals, who, like cancer, destroy everything.
I tell my classes that I am prepared to give everyone in the class an A if they are merited. I add that this has never occurred as much as I wish it would.
“Dear Colleges, Please Let Grades Mean Something”
B,Bu..BUT Wadil happen to all those teachers who got those AA kind of degrees?...That’s not Alcohol etc... it’s Affirmative Action ...
(( See FLORI-DUH for examples of this))
Women and minorities hardest hit
“Providing students the options to take courses either pass/fail or for a grade is the best of both worlds. The world is a really scary place right now, and everyone is aware of that fact. No employer or grad school program is likely to hold taking a class pass/fail against a student during a global pandemic. However, for students who wish to earn a letter grade, or who need this semester to boost a GPA, they would have the option.”
The problem is that graduate schools and employers, upon seeing an “A” on a transcript for a course taken this semester, are more likely to wonder if grade inflation occurred than they might under normal circumstances.
I would have no easy way of knowing whether or not a student truly earned an A in a course taken this semester unless I knew that the professor of the course was a tough old bird. Even normally tough professors might go easy on students because they do not feel they were able to teach the course well upon having to suddenly switch to translating it to an online format.
This is why I agree with courses being pass/fail during this period. In order to fail a course during this time period, a student really has to screw up (theoretically anyway).
I fear too many A’s will be given out that are not really deserved, certainly more than the usual amount in non-crisis semesters. There will probably be passes that are not deserved as well. Whether the number of undeserved passes outnumber the number of undeserved A’s and B’s versus “Gentlemen C’s” I do not know.
Our public school district started online school last week, and they’re doing pass/fail, too.
Grades have never meant anything. They are completely arbitrary. Could you design a course or test so easy that everyone would pass? Yes. Could you design a course or test that is so difficult that everyone would fail? Yes.
Grades have always been about sorting out winners from losers and have nothing to do with educating students. This is why they are destructive in a child’s early years. Once a kid is pegged as a failure, it is very difficult for him to climb out of that. Even though John Holt was an old hippie, he did have some interesting insights into education. Book - How Children Fail
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