Thoughts on Pass/Fail for the Spring

Cooper Raposo '21, Contributor

During Loomis Chaffee’s spring term distance learning, the school’s scattered population has had to come to terms with many new and challenging facets of our online boarding school. Along with the unfamiliar aspects of online learning, the student body has also faced personal upheaval as our lives change drastically.
With all of our lives in silent turmoil, the switch to a pass/fail grading system has been a welcomed and needed change. Adjusting to LC’s demanding education has already been a leap for many\; as a result, the new grading system has been a blissful comfort.
The worries that juniors may have had about the effect of losing a term’s worth of grades have been met with some reassuring answers. At Loomis we have three terms, as opposed to the two-term system used by many other peer schools. We have already had two semesters of grades, whereas other schools have lost everything since winter break. The fact that many other schools, especially prep schools, have switched to a pass/fail system has also alleviated our fears, knowing that the rest of the class of 2021 is in the same boat.
The pass/fail system also unfortunately comes with colleges shifting their focus from testing to GPA. With the SATs’ and ACTs’ being postponed until at least August, the prime time for junior testing has been lost and leagues of colleges are responding with the adoption of test optional admittance. It is definitely a comfort to know that colleges will not punish us for what is out of our control.
Over the past few decades, college and prep school admissions have become more and more competitive. Students have been pitted against each other in a taxing marathon from freshman to senior year, as more emphasis has been placed on both grades and test scores. The coronavirus has brought these systems of evaluation to a crashing halt, giving this year’s junior class a taste of freedom that has been lacking for years. This time will hopefully give the institutions of higher learning a moment to reflect and assess their current methods of evaluation.
The pass/fail grading implementation may be a part of a great shift toward a less trying age of learning, or just a tiny respite before the old and tired practices are brought back into play, but it is definitely welcome.