CASSANDRA JENKINS — ‘Pass/Fail’ grading policies meet students, teachers halfway

Published 12:16 am Wednesday, April 29, 2020

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After Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced schools would not be returning to campuses for the remainder of this academic year, districts flocked to choose the best grading policies for their students.

Nederland and Port Neches-Groves ISDs adopted a “Pass/Fail” model focusing on completion and progress of assignments.

The Mid-County districts announced their decisions last week in a move that meets teachers and students halfway.

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NISD Assistant Superintendent Stuart Kieschnick said the district chose “Progress/No Progress” as the most beneficial model because of the growth and effort measures it provides.

“We feel this growth model is best for our students during this time,” he said. “Growth models are now used across the state of Texas when accessing accountability. We understand that this transition was not easy for teachers or students. This model takes some pressure off of them.”

PNG Assistant Superintendent Julie Gauthier said they chose their “Pass/Fail” program because of its flexibility.

“It gives students, teachers and parents the relief of not getting stuck on small decisions,” she said. “It definitely provides the most flexibility for the situation we are in and gives the students the opportunity to be successful in the curriculum we are providing them.

“Usually in the classroom, we are able to meet the needs of individual kids, but to make it fair, this model gives our teachers leeway to focus on each student’s needs and abilities.”

A “Pass/Fail” standard still requires students to complete work to the best of their ability but removes the stress of aiming for a letter grade. Learning is not the same, so grading should not be either.

It’s true that students are experiencing less hours of curriculum a day, but it can seem like an even heavier load than a full school day when you are learning on your own in a completely different environment.

This model allows students to focus on the work, take the time to ask questions, learn the lesson and turn in all assignments without nit picking or hair pulling.

Teachers also benefit from this progression because it alleviates the need to go through question-by-question or paragraph-by-paragraph marking everything that is wrong to deduct points for a grade A-F.

Now, teachers can take their time to read assignments and determine whether the student truly understands the content as a whole and lay out the areas that need more focus.

Parents can also relax knowing their child will not fail due to their efforts or lack thereof. The power relies solely on the student and their ability to focus and complete an assignment.

Cassandra Jenkins is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at