Pass/Fail Electives Have Strong Potential

Libby Dunne, Staff Writer

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For all Miramonte electives, students receive a letter grade, just like any other class. But electives are not like any other class.
Students choose electives based on their interests, and can express themselves better in these classes. Electives at Miramonte should be graded with a pass/fail system, which could benefit both the teacher and the students.
A pass/fail system would allow the teacher to better decide what is the most important grading quality in their class with a pass/fail system – a good test grade, effort, participation, etc. Letter grades are more objective, and pass/fail grades are more subjective, just like electives are.
“Pass/fail electives would work really well because the grade you receive would reflect the effort you put in to the class, not the skill,” freshman Mary Clare Metherd said.
Pass/fail electives give students a chance to take classes they wouldn’t normally take without the fear of getting a bad grade. This is a great opportunity for students to experience different fields of learning that they may find they enjoy. As long as they put in the effort for that class, they should pass, so there is nothing to lose in stepping out of your comfort zone and taking a different class. For instance, if a student wants to take art, but has no artistic abilities, they would feel more confident about trying the class without the fear of it affecting their overall GPA.
A pass/fail elective system would relieve stress for Miramonte students who choose to take those classes, because students wouldn’t have to go above and beyond to get an A like in a traditional academic class. They could then focus more on their other classes, while still getting credit for their elective, having fun, and explorindg their intrests.
Pass/fail classes do give credit and therefore count as completing the class from the standpoint of a college you are considering applying to, so taking a pass or fail class wouldn’t affect the rigor of your schedule when thinking about colleges.
A downside to having pass/fail classes is that it does not affect a student’s GPA. This can be good or bad, depending on how one does in the class. This can turn students away from this idea and would then not be a beneficial change.
For this reason, Miramonte should amend their system to add pass/fail classes to their curriculum, but give credit to the students who pass, and allow the class to help their grade point average, similar to the grade system in which an F doesn’t grant the student any credit.
Another downside to this grading approach is that students don’t have the chance to improve in the class before final grades come out, because they can’t track their progress on schoolloop like they can with the current grading system.
“With letter grades, you can monitor your progress and have more incentive to do the bare minimum. So, in that sense, it sets the expectations relatively low, which is unfair and even condescending to students,” Video Production teacher Alex Hemmerich said.
Contrary to popular belief, pass/fail classes push students to try their hardest. Students would need to push themselves to do well in this system because there is not a chance to improve their grade before the semester ends.
Also, teachers in a pass/fail class may grade on effort, and the student would have to show they are trying in order to pass the class. Therefore, the pass/fail system is very benefitial to Miramonte and should be added to our already extensive curriculum.

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