Physical education has played an integral role in our education since the dawn of our journey in the Scarsdale Schools system. In elementary school, P.E. was a particularly fun part of the day during which we could channel our cheerful youth and expand our creativity and aptitude for recreational activities. In middle school, P.E. allowed us to solidify our interest in a specific sport and explore the importance of leading a healthy, active lifestyle. In high school, phys ed has continued to aid us in discovering our strengths and considering new, efficient methods of attaining mental and physical health. However, the pressure of being graded on readiness, participation, and skill often obscures the enjoyment of phys ed. Awarding of grades brings it to the same level as all the other rigorous courses that comprise our crowded schedules. Thus, it is important that we reflect on the fundamental purpose and benefits of physical education in order to reconsider the most suitable method for assessment.
Traditionally, the grading process has served as a way in which students are evaluated and recognized for their efforts and achievements in each academic course. However, it is no secret that many SHS students have felt concerned about grades throughout their high school career. While receiving grades stimulates students to become proficient in material while also serving as an efficient method of testing their understanding of the subject, an emphasis on grades often makes for a toxic environment for students. Physical education has always valued recreation, and it is crucial that this sense of pleasure is not lost to the weight of grades. Moreover, grades alone should not be the chief source of measuring SHS students’ athletic ability and interest.
Maroon staff proposes that the physical education policy should be altered to enforce a pass/fail curriculum in place of the standard graded course. A pass/fail course would create benefits for both students and physical education faculty alike. For students, P.E. would become less of a time of vying to get an “A”, and more a time of participation for the sake of knowledge and diversion. Students who are not as athletically gifted as some of classmates would benefit from this system. For the faculty members of the physical education department, the loss of the traditional letter grading system would ease the process of assessing students. In addition, this would make for a more equitable grading process as all students would receive either a “pass” or a “fail”. According to the results of a running poll on the Maroon website, 91% of students who completed the poll are in favor of a pass/fail system. In a pass/fail system, students would still be held accountable for their preparation and participation in class. Passing phys ed would entail a high attendance, considerable participation, and a positive attitude while in class. In other words, moving towards a pass/fail system would not convert phys ed into an effortless course. Instead, it would enhance the experience for students by making for a less stressful environment.
by Maroon Staff