New grading plan balances academic rigor with mental health


Isabel Engel

New academic plan attempts to balance two important facets of the high school experience: academic rigor and mental health.

Alejandra Monzon, Staff Writer

When Potomac first announced its transition to online learning, many thoughts raced through my mind. I wondered what our schedule would look like, how our teachers would adapt to this new classroom setting, and most importantly, how our grades would be determined. 

Although a final grading decision would not be made until April 17, I was pretty optimistic. The transition to distance-learning wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had thought it would be. Regardless, with a modified schedule and different teaching styles, I knew our grades wouldn’t reflect our online academic efforts in the same way as they would in a traditional learning setting. 

When it came to grades, I was unsure as to what I was hoping for. There seemed to be advantages to both a formal grading approach and a pass/fail system. I knew that with letter grades, I could show my academic achievements and raise my GPA. However, with a pass/fail system, there would be less academic pressure during an already stressful time. 

On April 17, we received an email from Mr. McLane stating that “students will continue to receive letter grades during distance learning.” I was unsure how I felt about this decision. 

The fourth quarter didn’t start off as any of us had planned. Leaving campus and adopting a system of online-learning amidst the pandemic proved to have its own challenges. 

With the addition of grades, I knew that I would need to be more diligent with my work in order to maintain my academic record; learning at home, however, is nothing like learning at school. Our schedule is different, our ways of learning have changed, and we are currently confined to our houses. 

With these ideas in mind, I kept reading the email. Upon realizing that I would have the chance to raise my second semester grade and it could not drop below my first semester grade, I was ecstatic. 

I think that this grading plan crafted by the administrators is a great opportunity for all faculty, teachers, and students. It allows students to continue making an effort in their classes, take advantage of academic opportunities, and receive grades for their improvement. 

At the same time, though, the policy takes the physical and emotional health of each community member into consideration. The policy is balanced such that academic rigor and mental health are equally important. 

During a global crisis of this nature, it is important that we remain happy and healthy while continuing to grow as students. Potomac’s new grading policy attempts to ensure just that.