Board of Education implements optional pass-fail grading 

The Westport Board of Education has changed fourth quarter grading to an optional pass-fail standard for Staples in an effort to decrease stress amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Graphic by Remy Teltser ’21

The Westport Board of Education has changed fourth quarter grading to an optional pass-fail standard for Staples in an effort to decrease stress amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Remy Teltser ’21, Paper Features Editor

Staples High School students will have the option to report their fourth-quarter grades using a pass-fail system or with a standard letter grade due to the new distance learning system.  Grades from quarter one through three, which ended on April 3, will be reported by traditional grade letters. 

Interim Superintendent David Abbey sent an email to all district families on April 5 informing them of COVID-19 updates discussed during a Board of Education (BOE) meeting on April 2, as well as information for the future. The email content included a breakdown of the appointment of a permanent Superintendent, Coleytown Middle School construction progress and the new distance learning grading system. 

“As we continue to work through this unprecedented and continuously evolving challenge, we are looking for ways to provide support, as well as to reduce anxiety among our students,” Abbey said in the email.

After the announcement of prolonged distance learning until April 20, Staples students created a petition on Change.org for a pass-fail system. The petition was combated by a second petition to keep the current grade letter standard. Students feel this new BOE implementation is an adequate compromise. 

“Giving students the option of having their classes be pass-fail relieves a lot of stress and will be beneficial,” Evie Dockray ’20 said. “[It] gives us a lot more room to enjoy this time and to spend it with our families before we go off to college.” 

The new grading approaches are in effect district-wide. Students at Bedford Middle School will be receiving pass-fail grades for quarter four without an alternative. Elementary schoolers — kindergarten through fifth-grade — will only be graded through written comments to parents in the third trimester. 

However, some students feel the change is unnecessary. 

“Fourth quarter is the students’ last chance to improve their grades […] I think that sticking to what we have been doing for the past weeks is a good method for grades,” John Vinicni ’21 said.

More information about the updated grading policy will be sent to district families in the following weeks. 

“We are all experiencing the significant impact that COVID-19 has had on our personal, family, and professional lives,” Abbey said. “[…] I am most concerned about our students’ emotional well-being.”