FUSD schools move toward a pass/fail grading system for second semester 

Aarya Vaidya

Staff Writer 

     As FUSD schools plan to continue distance learning for the rest of the school year, more changes in the educational requirements continue. Primarily, the district administration has implemented a new grading policy where second semester grades will be recorded as ‘credit’ or ‘no credit’. 

     “[The] FUSD School District has decided that any student who was passing as of Friday, March [13], when school buildings were closed due to the Coronavirus, would pass, or receive Credit for the course. On the other hand, students who scored below 60% as of Friday, March 13, have the opportunity to raise their grades by following online, completing their assignments in a timely manner, and taking part in any video conferences their teachers may have scheduled,” said Assistant Principal Mr. Reibenschuh. 

     The administration felt that this change was necessary in order to provide an equal opportunity for all students to succeed in their classes. 

     “The District wanted to level out the playing field for all students. We realized that not all students have adequate access to technology, the Internet, and/or may have to take care of their younger siblings because their parents are still working, or even that some students with their part time jobs may be the only income their family has. In order to address these inequities, the District proposed, as did so many other school districts in California, that we would not punish any student for their lack of access to the distance, or online learning situation we were forced to enter,” explained Mr. Reibenschuh. 

     Mr. Reibenschuh emphasizes that though there are many concerns with the changes that are occurring, students do not need to be worried about college denials because of the new grading system.

     “The UCs, the CSUs, all of the California Community Colleges will recognize and accept the Credit grade. GPAs will not be taken into account,” said Mr. Reibenschuh.  

     This shift in grading has changed class attendance and participation making teachers find new ways to encourage students. 

     “A much higher percentage of ninth graders are completing assignments as compared to my twelfth graders.  I try to remind students that this is not the end of their academic careers. Their instructors in the future, whether at AHS or at the university level, will be expecting that they have a certain skill set and that they have not taken a six-month vacation from active learning,” said English teacher Mrs. Martin. 

     For many of the teachers, this change in the grading system and having to teach virtually has led to some struggles. 

     “It’s a drag [teaching the remaining curriculum to students]. I can write detailed lesson plans and provide learning opportunities, but I miss the interaction. We don’t realize how much is taught and learned through those impromptu classroom interactions,” explained Mrs. Martin. 

     For students who are trying to remain engaged in the curriculum, some are unsure of how prepared they will be for the upcoming school year.

     “[I] kind of [feel prepared for next year. It’s easier learning when you’re in class because you understand better. Even though I still understand [the content], I think we would be more prepared if we were actually in the classroom, interacting with everyone and the teachers[s]. Your questions would get answered quicker and it’s easier to explain something in person,” said Meghana Hariprasad (10). 

     While there have been difficulties with the changes, there have been some positive changes for students. 

     “The pass/fail grading [system has] definitely given me more time to rest and get some sleep. This helped my mental health so much because I was more energetic,” said Hariprasad. 

    Assistant Principal Mr. Reibenschuh and many others continue to hope that this grading system will create a positive impact on students.

     “We hope that this current grading system will motivate all students to carry on as normally as possible. We’re not really seeing that, however.”

The administration has been working to make sure that more students have access to technology to complete assignments through platforms such as SchoolLoop and Google Classroom. “Although we are certain that we still have some families that do not have internet access or the technology to keep up with school assignments, we have made every effort to accommodate these families of need. Our District has purchased 300 hotspots for internet access, and has already distributed many of these to our families of need. Our school, American High School, has also distributed many laptops and Chromebooks to families who have indicated their need. In fact, some families have asked if we could supply Chromebooks for younger siblings as well, which we also did,” said Assistant Principal Mr. Reibenschuh. 
     

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