PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - A petition to allow students to choose to get letter grades in Oregon continues to get support, with thousands signing the change.org petition.
The petition, which has now led to the formation of the group “High School Grading Equity For All,” was posted on Friday. Since then it has racked up more than 4,500 signatures as of Wednesday evening.
“I think reading the stories really made me realize we were a voice for all these people,” Jenni Tan, a representative for the group, said.
One of those signatures belongs to North Bend resident David Stewart. He says he was not happy when he learned his son, Cainan, would only get a pass or incomplete grade for the semester.
“It’s a mixture of anger and frustration and disappointment,” Stewart said.
Cainan Stewart is a freshman at Oregon Connections Academy, an online school.
“It takes a lot of self-discipline,” David said.
Cainan says his school did not stop during the coronavirus pandemic, because it is online, and he has continued to work while other students had the time off. He says he has kept up an A+ in every class, but now feels that work won’t be recognized.
“If I get all A+’s and then another kid that gets maybe all D’s we still end up getting the same grade, even though I probably put in twice the work,” Cainan said.
And David worries this could hurt his son’s chances at future scholarships when compared with students from other states that offered letter grades.
“It’s going to be hard to compete with that,” David said.
High School Grading Equity for All says that scholarships have been a big reason that parents and students have told them they want letter grades.
“That spring semester they really need to get that extra 0.1% to qualify for that merit scholarship, so financial funds that will really help their family. And if they don’t get that extra 0.1, 0.2%, what does that mean?” Tan said.
But the Oregon Department of Education says the pass/incomplete grading system is the only truly fair way to mark grades for this semester. In a statement, Jennifer Patterson, the Assistant Superintendent of Office of Teaching said: “Our guidance ensures no student, school or community is penalized for school closure. There are no plans to change the framework for grading in Oregon.”
Petition supporters say they understand, but still feel a choice is a more fair way to grade.
“There’s definitely people in worse situations than we are and it would definitely make sense to do a pass or a fail, but I don’t think it makes sense to do it for everyone,” Cainan said.
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