Providence Students Demand Option for Opt-In Pass/Fail Grades in Rhode Island High Schools

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A Pass/Fail grading system should be implemented into the current semester, trimester or quarter to create a more fair and equitable learning scale that is accommodating for everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This would put less stress on students and teachers and put a focus on actually comprehending and understanding the material presented during distance learning. Also, many of the teachers in our schools have very little to no experience running distance learning. Some students during this pandemic are caught between doing what is best for their personal life while adapting to distance learning. These personal life issues range from taking care of family, to having different learning needs like (504s and IEPs) that could prevent them from succeeding with distance learning courses, or to not having access to the technology and resources necessary to succeed.

Social isolation and distance learning has taken a big toll on Rhode Island’s young adult population socially and academically. Furthermore, the grading process will be severely limited and will place stress on students who have much less control over their ability to properly prepare for exams, complete homework or do not engage well in school from home. The benefits of implementing this grading system severely outweigh the risks. It is fairer to students that colleges and possible employers see “P’s” on students' transcripts than potentially risking students getting grades well below their academic capabilities, negating all the hard work they have done (and will do in the future), destroying their prospects for graduation and college acceptance. We hope that the State enacts this change to the benefit of the entire Rhode Island high school student community and families.

Remember, even if this doesn’t affect you personally it is affecting someone somewhere else. Look below for more information.

The demand can be summarized into:

Provide all Rhode Island students with the opportunity to opt-in for a Pass/Fail grade for the 2020 academic 4th Quarter, 3rd Trimester, or 2nd Semester.

How will this affect your GPA? If your grade is above a 65% (D) from the first semester, and you receive a P on your current semester/trimester/quarter, you will get a P at the end that will neither decrease or boost your GPA.

  • A grade of 65% (D) or higher should qualify you for a Passing (P) grade.
  • Middle school students should be considered as well.

If a student chooses to do Pass/Fail courses these grades should only appear on their transcript and not impact their GPA.

  • If you choose to select the Pass/Fail grading system that decision should apply to all your current courses.
  • Or, if you choose to continue getting letter grades, that decision should apply to all your current courses.

Students do not have to explain or reason, why they need to opt-in for the pass/fail grading system. This will protect the student’s privacy and needs. It also allows for a smoother and quicker transition. If students are comfortable they can share their reasoning but should not be required to.

Is it important to recognize for those students that are considering applying to a college that a variety of institutions understand the circumstances and barriers that COVID-19 has placed on grades, standardized tests and education as a whole, and they have stated that they will take the pandemic into consideration when viewing applications. So choosing the Pass/Fail grading system should not harm the viewing of your application if you choose to do so. Many colleges like Yale, Duke and UPenn have also adopted similar systems of Pass/Fail grading due to COVID-19.

This decision supports:

  • Students with different learning needs (504s, IEPs, ELL Students)
  • Students with housing and technology insecurity
  • Visual and Hands-on Learners
  • Low-Income, working and non-working students
  • Students of Color
  • First-generation families
  • Students living with Depression, Anxiety, OCD, etc.
  • Students who just can’t do distance learning.
  • Students overall!

This movement is student-led by students on the Providence Student Union’s leadership team. Your signature shows us that you support the cause and you would like to actual change implemented by administrative officials.

Contact: psuleadershipteam@gmail.com to join the movement/ask any questions or state concerns!

Follow us on Instagram @pvdstudentunion to stay updated.

Updates on the petition below as well!