In recent weeks I have had two key meetings with the faculty. At one we talked about pedagogy, and how remote learning may have changed the ways in which the faculty are teaching online. All of them felt that they are covering the material, sometimes in new ways, but they are staying true to their core beliefs about how students learn and how they teach. At the other meeting we discussed grading. We had a candid discussion about whether faculty could provide authentic grades under our new circumstances. All of the faculty felt strongly that they could and should provide grades. Some of the reasons they provided included:
Students who were performing well prior to the pandemic
are still performing well.
Most of those who were struggling prior to the pandemic are not doing any worse, and some have started to do better because of the amount of support our student services team is providing.
The teachers feel they truly understand our students' level of understanding of the material.
If a student is earning high grades, it would be a disappointment to move to Pass/No Pass grading that really does not indicate how much they have worked. We are afraid that many would lose motivation to do the work.
From what I have observed, the schools that are moving to Pass/No Pass grading are the schools that were not able to provide a quality education, or were unable to do so quickly enough that they can stand behind what they have taught. Most of the schools doing the P/NP grades are large public schools that were unable to turn on a dime during the emergency. Independent schools are split about 50/50 on it, based on how well they have been able to provide a high quality education.
The recommendation for pass/no-pass or credit/no credit at many schools that are going that route has a lot to do with technology equity, as many students in our country do not have access to a laptop or wifi. We are very fortunate at TMS to have our students able to have this access. If you are having difficulties with your technology, please let Josh know, and we will make every effort to help.
Another important point is that by changing our grading now, it sets a precedent for the future. Unfortunately, experts are predicting that we will likely see more waves of shelter-in-place in the future. In fact, as I mentioned last week, they are saying that there will be restrictions put into place when we reopen. It is important that we set things up for the future.