Graphic by Savannah West
During the fourth quarter when the district switched from traditional to online learning, the Acalanes High School District adopted a “No Credit,” “Credit” grading system rather than the usual letter grades. According to the district, students will be graded and assessed differently due to distance learning and the “AUHSD staff believes that traditional letter grades describing student knowledge and understanding of course standards would be inaccurate during the current circumstances and therefore no letter grades will be awarded as of the school closure date.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing people to be stressed and afraid. In recognition of this, the district implemented Credit/ No Mark in order to “be able to support our students’ social, emotional and mental wellness so that effective academic learning can take place. We believe moving to a Credit/No Mark grading system for the 2020 spring semester will help alleviate some of the stress that the uncertainty and the upheaval of our environment has caused not just for our students – but for our parents, teachers and staff as well. We’ve also heard from teachers and staff that designing adequate assessments is incredibly challenging. Not only is it difficult to confirm the integrity of assessments, it is impossible to provide equitable opportunity given the great variance in learning environments for our students.”
Many colleges have also adopted a Credit/No Mark grading system during this time. As a result, they understand that some schools are changing to this policy and have assured prospective students that it will not impact their future admissions decisions. Along these lines, AUHSD’s decision to “move to Credit/No Mark reporting will benefit our students without negative consequences for students with collegiate aspirations because the Credit and No Mark scores do not affect students’ grade point averages (GPAs). Further, post-secondary institutions confirm that our students will not be at a disadvantage to other private or public high schools that might have made the decision to use letter grades.” Also, either a Credit/No Mark will will not affect a student’s GPA.
The considerations that were weighed in relating to college admissions were “moving to Credit/No Mark grading aligns with our goal for student wellness and continued learning and is the best option for all of our students. We believe there are important benefits for our students and staff and know that there will not be negative consequences for students with collegiate aspirations. Universities and colleges across the country are recognizing that applications next year may look very different from those in the recent past, and have made it clear that students will not be penalized for missing traditional standardized tests nor for posting Credit/No Mark transcripts for this semester.”