Removal of pass/fail grade option responsible for drop in average GPA

Naomi Rea, Contributor

Since the return to in-person school, Jackson-Reed students have seen a drop in GPA. The average has gone from 3.3 in the 2019-20 school year to 3.15 in the 2021-22 school year. 

Many students and teachers credit this decline to students’ reliance on the pass/fail system during virtual learning which was eliminated in August 2021.

In the pass/fail system, students who received an “F” during the online schedule were offered an opportunity to take a credit recovery course. If they passed, the ‘F’ would turn into a “P”, meaning they pass, and wouldn’t bring down a student’s GPA. 

The pass/fail system was generally taken well by students during quarantine.

“If someone had trouble paying attention, and that contributed to failing a class, it shouldn’t be their fault.” Senior Linh Nguyen said. 

Since the pass/fail system ended, Jackson-Reed’s GPA has drastically lowered.

The DCPS “End of Course Failure Percent” chart provides data outlining the change in GPA for Jackson-Reed High School. In 2019-2020, there were 18,648 courses offered, and students failed 784 of them bringing the failure rate to 4.2 percent. In 2021-22 with a return to on-campus learning, in the first semester, out of 9273 courses, 672 were failed, with a 7.2 percent failure rate. 

During virtual learning, poor internet, lack of concentration, and other adversities caused many students to not sign in to their Microsoft Teams classes. In turn, this situation raised the amount of absences. 

“There were more absences during the pandemic, so more people failed. That carried over to this year,” Spanish teacher Victor Vela said. “Pre-pandemic, there were fewer people not coming to class.”

“You can’t just go from a whole school year of there being no late policies and an impossibility of failure to be put back into a system that [existed] pre-Covid,” junior Chris Velasquez said. “It is very hard for many students especially because not everyone comes from the same background of constantly working.”

The pass/fail system appears positively viewed by most. “It was a nice way to take into consideration the emotional and difficult academic hurdles some were facing in online learning,” English teacher Jenna Postler said. •