How Should Students be Graded During Online Learning?


Photo via Pusont

Josephine Gettman, Staff Writer

This commentary is being published both by the La Jolla Light ( and the La Jolla High School Hi-Tide ( as part of a partnership to give La Jolla High students the opportunity to express their views in the community newspaper.

School closures have altered the education of 51 million students across the country since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, causing continuous debates over whether or not grading systems should be altered for students. There are three main grading systems that schools all over the nation are using: pass or fail, no grades at all, and A-F letter grading. 

There is no doubt that the pandemic has made it much more difficult for some students to focus and understand the material that they are expected to learn since they cannot have one-on-one contact with teachers. There is much more independent learning and assignments that have to be completed outside of class time for online school, which can be very challenging for some students without help from teachers. Besides this, a large number of students do not have access to high-speed internet, the required supplies, or books to effectively do their online school. Therefore, those students are at a disadvantage for getting into college, which could seriously affect their future. Nevertheless, Zoom frequently glitches causing some students to not be able to participate and miss out on important information during class. According to the American Institute for Research, “Opportunities for students to receive academic support within the home already vary widely, a dynamic whose effect will be more pronounced when their access to classroom teachers and settings also is limited.” Online school should be beneficial for all students, not just some, so having a pass/fail grading system would give struggling students a greater chance of success.

There are people who also say that changing the grading system to pass/fail, or to a no grade system would pose yet another challenge to students as they would have to adapt to a different way of being graded. However, if a school’s grading system was being moved from a normal A-F scale to pass/fail, it would be significantly less stressful and easier for them to pass. 

When asked about what she thought regarding La Jolla High’s online school system, junior Riley Johnson said, “It’s definitely more challenging to focus on school since we are at home, but I feel like it’s manageable to get good grades with our current grading system because we are still learning.” Although she believes that the current way of grading is fine the way it is, other students believe that a pass or fail system would be more beneficial. Junior Katie Williams said, “I think that a pass/fail grading system would be better. It’s way harder to keep up with work for online school, and we really don’t get any time to talk to our teachers alone when we need help, so it’s easier to get behind in class.”

Although some people might say that students should have to deal with the current grading system because being in college or having a job is much more difficult, the truth is that online school is not the same as in-person school. Students are forced to adapt to completely different learning styles. Therefore, having a pass or fail grading system would release unnecessary academic pressure that the coronavirus has caused.