Irvine Unified School District has announced a switch to a credit/no credit grading policy, temporarily shifting away from the standard letter grade system.  For the last semester or trimester (depending on education level), everything will be pass or fail.

This switch is, of course, understandable.  With all classes having been moved online, teachers have basically no way of guaranteeing students aren’t cheating on the new digital exams.

The online testing platform Canvas is advanced, with ways to tell if students have other tabs open, as well as if the student clicks away from the exam tab.  Nonetheless, it cannot prevent students from using multiple devices to search things online or to use textbooks.

With no way to guarantee academic honesty, there’s no way to differentiate between legitimate work and faked academic success.  Thus, by switching to pass/fail, the school district provides minimal “reward” for those who cheat, while also ensuring that students who are working are receiving credit.

Teachers and students were not prepared for these digital classes.  When we started the semester, we obviously had no idea that a global pandemic would hit, forcing us to stay home and switch to purely digital classes.  After all, we expected our school year to pass the same way it had so many years prior. 

With the sudden switch, teachers and students alike are fumbling to adjust.  With the new learning landscape, it is unreasonable for students to be expected to perform at the same level we did in the familiar classroom environment.

However, for the average high school student, this switch has had repercussions.  During the half of a semester in which we were attending school, many of us were working hard to maintain and improve grades.  Juniors especially sought to improve our grade point average in preparation for college applications.  Now, with no GPA to bring up averages in this semester, students are scrambling to figure out how else we can bolster our college applications.

Hopefully, college admission boards will understand since so many other school districts across the country have also switched to pass/fail systems of credit.

I would assume that colleges and universities cannot not admit a student simply because of our school district’s choice; students who deserve to be admitted to a college should still be admitted.

This has definitely been a semester that high school students won’t soon forget.

Mandy Yang