Students Concerned About New Grading Policies

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By Alex Witrago, Editorial Intern

While high school students continue distance learning from their homes, many seniors are questioning how changes in grading policy will affect their college admissions.

“If I had to choose between keeping my letter grade or credit/no credit I would choose my letter grade,” said Myra Santiago, a graduating senior at Cabrillo High School in Long Beach.

Santiago was accepted into California State University, Long Beach and will start her first semester in fall 2020. She has not declared her major but plans to get into the nursing program. Santiago is not too concerned about losing her admission into CSULB but has little understanding of how her credit or no credit may affect her high school transcripts.

“Personally, for hard-working students like Myra I would have preferred that the school district give the option for students to keep their letter grades,” said Diego Castrejón, Myra’s Spanish teacher at Cabrillo High School.

COVID-19 has changed the way many educational institutions are grading students, substituting the point system for methods such as pass or fail, credit, or no credit. Seniors are the most concerned about how these new methods may impact their college admissions.

 The California Department of Education has this to say about the matter on its website:

“The decision of whether or not to require graded work from students is a local one. There are a variety of considerations for local educational agencies to weigh as they review their grading policies during the transition to distance learning. [Local educational agencies] should weigh their policies with the lens of equity and with the primary goal of first, doing no harm to students. 

Castrejón explains that the school district informed all teachers that universities will accept the credit/no credit grading system during the stay-at-home lockdown, and it should not affect a student’s admission or application into universities.

“Many students are struggling with online learning,” Castrejón said.

Some  prefer to be graded by the credit/no credit grading system, including William Sanales, a senior at Cabrillo High school. Sanales plans to attend Long Beach Community College to pursue a career in human resources.

“It’s difficult to continue my classes online,” Sanales said. “There are many distractions that take you away from doing my school work, which is why I prefer the credit/no credit grading.”

Castrejón sees both sides. He understands that many students are struggling with online learning and mental health during this time of the lockdown but also understands the frustration and confusion of some students who would rather have their letter grade on their high school transcript.

 Another area of concern for students is their ACT/SAT exams. Santiago took the SAT in October to improve her SAT score before her college applications in the fall of 2019, but the California State University will temporarily suspend the use of ACT/SAT examinations in determining the admissions for all CSU for the 2021-2022 academic year.

 Although Santiago’s SAT score was not used to determine her admission into CSULB she does not regret retaking the exam.

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