SHS Maintains Traditional Grading Policy For Second Semester

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Maroon Staff

"As long as we are accommodating students who need help, the benefits of letter grades outweigh the drawbacks."

On April 3rd, Scarsdale High School made the decision to stick with traditional letter grades for the remainder of the school year. Because coronavirus has upheaved so many aspects of daily life, many high schoolers believe the administration should alter the grading system and make it more lenient and fitting to current circumstances. Grant Schechtman ’20, a senior at SHS, started a petition on change.org (https://bit.ly/3goAIIp ) to encourage students to join his cause and change the grading policy for the second semester. While completely ditching grades is implausible, by making minor adjustments to the current system and listening to student feedback, e-learning can be improved for everyone. 

“I first became interested in the possibility of changing the current grading system after seeing that most American colleges were changing their grading policies,” explained Schechtman. After the administration declined his suggestions, Schechtman started a petition that currently has more than a thousand supporters. He proposed a no-detriment policy for second semester grades. A student could choose to only count their first semester scores, making certain courses pass/fail, and curving letter grades. 

“While teachers have been instructed to be more forgiving when assigning and grading work, each teacher interprets that differently,” said Schechtman. The inconsistencies and unfamiliar schedules are confusing for everyone, which makes communication with teachers and counselors even more important during these uncertain times. Because everyone is subjected to coronavirus’ effects, colleges and teachers will take everything into account when evaluating students. Even though grade inflation may seem like the right thing to do, this will ultimately make assessing where students are academically, more difficult for colleges.

“The decision [to maintain the current grading system] was not an easy one, yet I believe as long as we are accommodating students who need help, the benefits of letter grades outweigh the drawbacks,” said Principal Kenneth Bonamo. Work that is assessed at around the same standards can allow high schoolers to maintain a sense of normalcy and motivate students to remain productive. While both students and teachers are still adapting to distance learning, keeping the current system “can be a powerful antidote to the isolation and ambiguity of life under quarantine,” explained Mr. Bonamo. 

Since there is still a possibility that school will still be closed in the fall, student suggestions to improve e-learning for the next school year are still significant. “I think [the petition] shows that a lot of the student body does have an issue with the current grading policy. For that reason, I suggested that the school send an official survey to the student body,” said Schechtman. How can we improve e-learning and make it more consistent and stable for students and teachers? To answer this imperative question, gathering advice from students is crucial. Although details on the next school year are still unclear, the school administration will “be spending a considerable amount of time studying this question and planning over the summer,” said Mr. Bonamo.

Note: If you are having any problems (e-learning or otherwise), please contact your teacher, counselor, or a Youth Outreach worker!