CON: Pros and cons of the new credit/ no credit system

Outside of the campus closure, SCHS will see changes in the grading system for the rest of the semester, switching from letter grades to credit/no credit. It is inevitable that this new way of grading will have a negative effect on some students’ effort in the virtual classroom and academic habits.

By grading on a credit/no credit system, it is not only easier for students to pass but also takes away one of the stronger incentives to learn. Students who had As and Bs in difficult classes won’t have that reflected in grade point averages and transcripts. To take this away could hurt students when they apply for colleges, especially prestigious universities that are highly competitive where it really does make a difference to earn a 4.0 GPA.

One of the purposes of assigning letter grades and making fine distinctions is to push students to want to end the semester with the best grade possible. Concern, anxiety and stress foster hard work. Letter grades create an incentive that leads students to put in more effort and teaches them that their work matters. The pay-off is cognitive gain and mastery of content, which are the real purposes of collegiate education.

With the new credit/no credit system, passing a class becomes much easier. If a majority of students are going to pass, teachers may be less demanding, which could lead to an erosion of content. Without the hard work that comes from grades, both students and faculty may not meet learning objectives to the fullest extent possible using online learning.

This new grading system is understandable as the world right now is in uncharted waters with the ongoing spread of COVID-19, and teachers are adjusting to the online learning platform. This system also does a fair job of lowering the anxiety levels of both teachers and students but with this, they are eliminating important incentives.

At the initial school closure, school was supposed to reopen on April 13. As of now, school is closed for the remainder of the school year. But with new studies regarding the rate of the virus, this may not be the case. Harvard Research hypothesized that people may not be able to leave their homes until 2022. Credit/No Credit is an understandable short-term solution, but if it were to continue for longer than this school year, switching back to a letter grade system would be better to make sure that students don’t start off the new school year with little motivation to learn during such a crucial time.