Some Illinois students want a ‘no fail’ policy Following A Year Of Remote Learning

As the first full school year under the COVID-19 pandemic comes to a close in Illinois, some are calling for grading standards to be eased.

While the impacts of the pandemic on education are still being measured, students at Oak Park River Forest High School have seen their grades slip and don’t think they should be punished for it, ABC 7 reported.

They are calling for a ‘no fail’ policy which would allow students to move on regardless of their grades.

While the final decision on grade promotion policies is up to the local school boards, Jason Leahy, former principal and executive director for the Illinois Principals Association, argued that there are creative solutions that don’t involve pass or fail.

“Rather than giving the kids a failing grade, maybe there’s a way we give students incompletes until they’ve shown they have done the work necessary to meet the requirements of the course and get the grade they need to show they can move on,” he told Illinois Radio Network.

Finding the balance between sufficient academic progress and empathy for the challenges they’ve faced is the tricky part, he said.

“When you think about graduating students, you’ve got to make sure when kids are graduating, they’re going on to the higher ed institutions that they have what they need,” Leahy said.

He hopes students can understand school is about giving them the tools necessary to be successful at the next level.

“Those kids, to come at this from a mature way is to say, ‘I’m not just looking to be moved on, I’m just looking to be given the time and support I need in order to achieve at a higher level.’”

Leahy said it is up to individual school districts to decide what’s best for their students in terms of grade determination, but all are working harder now more than ever to make sure kids have the help they need.

“They’re trying to determine the kinds of support that they’re going to need, maybe the summer, or again as I mentioned things like high-impact tutoring, there might be some technological support,” he said.