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Pass/Fail System





GoldenBabbler
Today's youth have been raised to strive for perfection and to achieve A's in school to go onto college and prepare for your future.

This idea of achieving good grades equals achieving a successful future is not what we need to be promoting in school. We need to be promotion fundamental skills which will enable our youth to succeed. School should not be about getting A's and B's, but rather being passionate about work and taking away as much as possible from the class.

Now how does a school system achieve this? By implementing a new grading system coined "Pass/Fail". What this basically means is that letter grades are thrown out the window and you either pass or fail every class. This eliminates the stress of having to achieve that "A" and promotes a better learning experience.

What is your opinion on this subject?
Bikerman
It starts by dictating the agenda. We are first told what schools should not do and then what they are about. As a lecturer I tend to take exception to any article that tries that trick.
On the proposal itself - silly.
What is wrong with striving for an A?
When 50% graduate with a 'pass' then how will THEY know if they are any good? All they know is that they have been pushed through a system which rates them acceptable - along with whatever proportion are deemed to have met this ultimately arbitrary measure (is 51 a pass and 50 a fail? Why not 49?)
[FuN]goku
Honestly, I think a Pass/Fail System is horrible.

The way my school works is, our grades are ranked out of 100 (in otherwords, more or less just a percentage). 50 is considered a pass, (though some teachers who feel a student has tried to work hard, but has still got 45-49, they will pass them).

Each class has it's own marking scheme, however, the exams, are ALWAYS worth 30% of your final mark.

Here is a breakdown of my 'Comparative World Religions 12' class
Tests - 20%
Assignments - 20%
Research Project - 15%
Seminar - 15%
Exam - 30%

This system creates diversity in the students abilities... Maybe they do bad on tests, but get 100 on all their assignments.... So if one area fails, they have another they can rely on a little more. Sort of a safety net if you will.

GoldenBabbler wrote:

This eliminates the stress of having to achieve that "A" and promotes a better learning experience.

First, since my school doesn't use that type of grading system, I'll kinda do a little twist.

I'm gonna guess that an 'A' would be an equivalent of +90%

So, I'm thinking that this Pass/Fail system would do a few things.

1. It eliminates competition between students on their marks. (My school has a 'global ranking' meaning , where they stand with their overall mark in the school over other students. It's used for getting into post-secondary education, and applying for some of the bigger scholarships and bursaries)

2. It eliminates the anxiety of "Doing Better" than another individual (Class Ranking). Which could POTENTIALLY be good, however, thinking of my physics class... More often than not, our teacher gets us to put our problems on the board, and usually he gets the students with higher marks to put them up. Suppose the pass/fail system is in place. How is he going to pick students to do problems? Sure , he can pick at random, but what if your question is wrong? Sure, not a big deal to some, but for others, they take that stuff hard. So that puts the anxiety BACK IN.

3. Having a marking scheme can have a positive impact on someone. For example, they write a test expecting to get... maybe 75. They get their test back, and they get an 85. This may or may not motivate the person, it all depends on the individual. (Kinda makes me think of my psychology class last year when we talked about intrinsic/extrinsic motivation.)

4. You mention 'This eliminates the stress of having to achieve that "A"', but, not everyone shoots for such high grades. Some people are happy with a pass, some are happy with average, and some are happy with above average. I myself, am by all means, NOT a 90+ student. I'm not an 80+ student.... I'm not even a 60+ student. In fact, as long as I pass, I'm happy.

Which brings me to my next point, or... more of a personal opinion even.

I don't believe grades reflect a student's intelligence in any way. Sure, maybe you made a high mark in the class, but, it doesn't mean you're the smartest in your class. It simply means, you went to class , and did the assignments. Unfortunately, this is my personal downfall. I go to class, but I tend to get lazy and don't hand in assignments. But the work I actually do, I usually get high marks on.

An example of this is, again, my physics class. Currently my mark is standing at 58% (exams are next week). Then, theres another guy in my class, who stands at about a 75. This guy is.... how to say it... a Jock basically. He asks some of the dumbest questions I've ever heard. I won't go into details, but, he's the same in the other classes I have him in, and most of my class mates would (and have) agree with me. Don't get me wrong, he's is a real nice guy, just a little stunned.

The reason he has a 75, and I don't, he did the assignments..... I probably didn't bother handing 4 or 5 of them in. And your class mark really, really, doesn't reflect your understanding of the subject. Despite my 58, I don't have problems with my physics (Except for when I was sick for 2 weeks with H1N1, which set me back alot more as well)

So you might ask, what do I plan on doing with my 'low marks'? I'm planning on going to community college for 2 years for IT/Network Security (of which I have a lot of prior knowledge on). They don't look at your marks, (although they do request a copy of your transcript), It's first come first serve, and as long as apply and get accepted, you're guaranteed a spot, as long as you graduate. After my 2 years, I'm going to go to University as a mature student and get a Computer Science degree.

Bit of extra cash, but I'm all for it. And as a benefit, I get 2 different perspectives on Computer related studies.

Another thing I'd like to point out, is that some people might say "OH well, if you're incompetent of having school work done, how are you going to do a REAL job?"
The answer is simple... What does school work really do for me? It takes up valuable time I could be using to be doing something hands on.


My idea of schooling (High Schooling in specific though), is that by this time you get to pick which courses you want/need, with the exception of courses which are REQUIRED (English 10/11/12 , Math 10/11 at my school as a quick example) , But in my opinion, what should be done is, instead of taking all that requisite crap, is, have trades in high school, and take a trade rather than courses you're not gonna use anyways. English? Well, all we do in english these days, is poetry... and reading? That's about it. No grammar, or anything of the sort. If say, I want to take a "tech trade" , maybe i should take a couple maths course, (with an optional physics course or other science), and some tech/media courses.

Where the hell would I use poetry in computer science I ask you? As for reading? I'm capable of reading on my own. I've never had trouble with it, and I always used to have 100's on my spelling tests in elementary. If I don't know a word, I look it up in a thesaurus or dictionary. I honestly can't say the same for others. I notice that a lot of people at my school are REALLY bad at oral reading, and tend to stutter, or mispronounce words (even the substitute teachers I have noticed have a tendency to look at a word , and say a completely different word.). An example?
"He was deeply contemplating something.", a student , and god forbid, a teacher might read it as
"He was deeply completing something". I see this, more often than it should happen.

All in all, I don't agree with my current school's system, nor the Pass/Fail system.
I'll wrap this up for now, as I'm starting to go cross-eyed from typing, lol.
leontius
Grades provide job seekers an easy way to distinguish fresh graduates. Take it away from them and applying for a job would mean studying everything all over again, because the companies are going to test you and give you GRADES. So what's the difference?

Alternatively, they will determine job placement based on CV, so students must strive to fill in their CV. Which is honestly as bad as getting good grades, or even worse.
_AVG_
Well, about this problem i.e. about bringing into question what exactly must a job applicant be selected on the basis of, I suggest instead of giving so much weight to a CV and grades, companies base their decisions on the whole picture - an interview, an aptitude test or maybe even a series of tests and also recommendations, etc. Besides that, they can look through the CV and grades as well.

However with these, come more administrative costs and they require more time as well so ... I think that we need to come up with a better solution ... Rolling Eyes
Ankhanu
I can only see pass/fail promoting complacency and laziness in education... why work for a good grade when you only have to do enough to get by? Ideally, this wouldn't be the case, people would want to do well to better themselves, but I think reality is overwhelmingly showing us that most people do NOT conform to this ideal.
joostvane
You should check out the movie Dead Poets Society. It is a movie about the striving to perfection versus carpe diem. The movie is about a teacher, Keating, who is unhappy with the current way the school is being handled and decides to teach the children in a different way.

I must say that the current education system is too much about grades, and it should be more filled up with other subjects aswell, that have an ethnic meaning. But yes, having good grades is important to get a good job and live a good life.
ocalhoun
joostvane wrote:

But yes, having good grades is important to get a good job and live a good life.

Important for getting into the next tier of schooling, perhaps, but 90% of employers don't care what your grades were, only if you graduated or not.
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
joostvane wrote:

But yes, having good grades is important to get a good job and live a good life.

Important for getting into the next tier of schooling, perhaps, but 90% of employers don't care what your grades were, only if you graduated or not.
I don't think that is the case here, though it may be there.
Here many employers are very interested in whether (to take an example) you took a third class or first class on your degree ('took' being the term used here to mean 'attained').
jeffryjon
I do believe that striving for an 'A' is a good approach. However it seems that there's something missing in the pass or fail forever (or a long time) approach.

Passing your driving test is about finding out what your bad habits are, rectifying them and passing. Some will pass 1st time and others may take a few attempts. The important point is that the person becomes a good driver (hopefully).

I feel what we need is a system that picks up on the inadequacies of a student and makes it very clear to them where they need to improve AND THEN make it possible to do so before they go grey or bankrupt. Of course there'll still be those who fail to make the grade but each country needs people who'll contribute back to society in the field they've trained in. Those who initially struggle may even be more likely to stick to their trade after graduating.
ocalhoun
Bikerman wrote:
took a third class or first class

... Must be a British thing... Never heard of taking first or third or any kind of class...
Bikerman
ocalhoun wrote:
Bikerman wrote:
took a third class or first class

... Must be a British thing... Never heard of taking first or third or any kind of class...

UK degrees come as follows:
Ordinary degree - BA, BSc, BEd
Honours degree:
Third class
Lower second class (2:2)
Upper second class (2:1)
1st class
kutekitten
If there were no marks, then there would be no way to know how to enhance your current habits, if you get lower marks, then maybe you should look at how much time you spend studying, or working on assignments, or perhaps changing to a college level, wheras if there were a Pass/Fail system, you wouldn't be able to know if you got a 51, or if you got an A.
DMDM
Hi to who ever reads this, im a 16 year old girl and I hated school because of many reasons, but mostly because of tests! I would get so nervous that I would forget almost everything I learned. I decided I want to make my own high school some day, I really liked learning stuff and doing projects. Anyway I have an Idea and If anyone knows someone that can help me or have some tips on how to get it started that would be great!

[MOD - post edited to change colour which was unreadable for some - Bikerman]
Bikerman
What sort of help do you want? Help with getting a project started? That would depend on the project - you will have to give more details....
c'tair
Bikerman, perhaps you've had some experience with the IB Diploma program? If yes, how would you compare it to traditional education?

I've been to school in the US and in Poland. I've also been to an IB school later on and I have to say that the IB program is wonderful. There is huge pressure on actually thinking, not answering, which I think is the MOST IMPORTANT difference. You are only partially graded for providing the right answer, but you are also graded on how you came to that answer. And you are taught the steps of getting answers instead of how to memorize random information and then spew it out on a test and then forget about it.
We hardly had any tests, we had loads of essays. I have to say that it was the most educational experience in my life, I learned so much and I was able to retain most of it to this day.
sudipbanerjee
Can anybody explain me without a pass fail system how should we judge a student? Everybody knows Pass fail system is a hoorible system but there is no good alternative of it also!
ocalhoun
sudipbanerjee wrote:
Can anybody explain me without a pass fail system how should we judge a student? Everybody knows Pass fail system is a hoorible system but there is no good alternative of it also!

If the class is supposed to teach a skill, test their ability to perform that skill.
If the class is supposed to teach a set of knowledge, test how much of that knowledge they have retained.

Given that, I see no reason why we shouldn't rank the students based on how well they performed the skill or how much of the knowledge they remembered. And there is also no reason not to choose a point at which we can say they did not acquire the skill or knowledge, and need to retake the class if they are to gain it (failed the class).

There are some problems with judging students by comparing them to other students though.
In a class where all of the students are very good, we should not fail a student who understands everything simply because everybody else in the class did slightly better.
Also, in a class full of complete morons, we should not pass all of them just because they are equally dumb.
So, putting the occasional curve on a test to adjust for the unknown difficulty of the test is fine, but the overall standard needs to be objective to make any credit earned have meaning.
LittleBlackKitten
In my world, the only fail should be a 0%. I think it would be FAR better to have a percentage of comprehension where most universities, employers, and other people can make their OWN mind up about how knowledgeable the individual is. I have met MANY people who totally comprehend the data presented to them, but they just can't translate it into pen and ink. It's in there, it's just not being translated the way the mass education system deems appropriate. I see schools now-a-days as fast-food employee machines; it was designed in early times to produce workers in hard times, we just haven't broken the system. In other countries, children are expected of learning insane amounts of data in short spans of time, and they do it well, but it's all a broken system meant for the perfect minded to be churned out in the average work force. You can't even GET a good job fresh out of high school any more, you have to bury yourself in debt to get anywhere and that's not right.

In MY world, school would work on a comprehension system.

Let's say the exam shows that most of the class comprehends English 10 by a percentile of 78% Now, that would imply that either the teacher isn't doing a great job, or the kids aren't getting it. So if we peek at the individual levels, let's say most kids actually comprehend about 85-90% of the curriculum, and there's a few students that are quite low, and are pulling the percentages down. In a pass/fail system, that child would either be held back, sent to a "tutor", or sent to an assisted learning program. But if they're only getting 48% in English, and are getting say 98% in Math and Science, well, that kid is specifically gifted and may be a mathematician or scientist! In a pass/fail system, the gifted are generally ignored; but if you assign a comprehension percentage, their gifts become much more clear, and that person is granted the ability to excel where they are MEANT to, and not where the grades stick them. A 48% in a pass/fail system in English will hold you back a grade and steal attention away from things you excel at; but if you switch to a comprehension grade scheme, those who can fly ahead and excel will. Furthermore, anyone looking at someone's grades who will possibly hire will see a 48% in a pass/fail and go "he's no good" and will ignore the excelleration at other subjects; but with comprehension, it doesn't look THAT bad, and highlights the good aspects...
ocalhoun
LittleBlackKitten wrote:
But if they're only getting 48% in English, and are getting say 98% in Math and Science, well, that kid is specifically gifted and may be a mathematician or scientist!


But even a mathematician or a scientist must read and write complex research papers in order to be successful... Otherwise he'll always be duplicating effort already made and published by others, and if he ever does do anything original, he'll have difficulty expressing it to colleagues.

I would be in favor of diplomas and degrees specifying areas of particular skill, but there still needs to be a minimum standard in nearly all subjects for one to be successful in any field.
Viewed idealistically, a failing grade in one area is the mechanism by which a student is singled out for intensive help in that area, to bring him up to at least the minimum standard he needs for success.

As for those with test-anxiety... They just need to get over it, they'll still be anxious about the test no matter what form it takes... Though they still need to have their skill and/or comprehension tested somehow.
bukaida
The pass fail and gradation system was always under question in my 15 years of experience in the college education . So recently a committee was formed by our university ( I was one of the members) to review the existing system. In our report we have suggested some points –

1. Instead of the % system, introduce the gradation system.

2. It is often observed that a student generally good in performance throughout the session, becomes ill/ could not perform well in the sessional /semester examination. Getting a poor marks for lifetime is not justified for such cases. On the other hand , a student who did not care about the education for the entire session, suddenly mugged up few questions before examination and performs well ( we say it like—commit to memory & vomit to paper), is also unjustified. So we proposed a continuous evaluation system in which the student should be evaluated on a weekly basis throughout the session. There will be a terminal examination but it will carry 20% of the total marks only. In that way the above problem may be solved.

3. For a technical education, more emphasis will be on practical rather than theoretical (at a ratio 60:40).


So far the university has agreed with us and we hope it will be implemented from the next session.
uchejohn
This topic is a very important topic. It is said that examination is not a true test of knowledge but examination serves as a useful tool to access the level of intelligent, brilliancy and also how careful a student or a learner can be. The pass/fail system of every school no matter the region aims at one thing and that is to grade students according to their ability using a common standard. Companies also do the same in order to select those that really worked hard to make a good grade at school as this can help them to select the serious ones that can contribute usefully to the company. So pass/fail system is a nice tool that encourages hard-work.
Bikerman
c'tair wrote:
Bikerman, perhaps you've had some experience with the IB Diploma program? If yes, how would you compare it to traditional education?

I've been to school in the US and in Poland. I've also been to an IB school later on and I have to say that the IB program is wonderful. There is huge pressure on actually thinking, not answering, which I think is the MOST IMPORTANT difference. You are only partially graded for providing the right answer, but you are also graded on how you came to that answer. And you are taught the steps of getting answers instead of how to memorize random information and then spew it out on a test and then forget about it.
We hardly had any tests, we had loads of essays. I have to say that it was the most educational experience in my life, I learned so much and I was able to retain most of it to this day.

I like the IB - mainly because it allows students to study a range of subjects. In the UK our students normally choose maths/science or humanities at A level - I believe that is too early to narrow study to that extent.
As for exam systems - my own preference has always been for open-book exams, and those are the types of exam I use when I have the freedom to do so. It allows me to set 'real world' problems that do not rely on simply cramming facts into your head.
_AVG_
Another reason why I prefer the IB is because it is balanced by CAS, TOK and the best of all, the Extended Essay - in truth, you have a balanced education, learn "how to learn", do not narrow down your mind to one area of study while at the same time get experience in research / deep study in an area that interests you. I hated it when I did it but now the way I look at the world is solely because of the IB. It is truly a wonderful program.
abhinavgakhar
we here at IIT DELHI INDIA grading system
A 10
A- 9
B 8
B- 7
C 6
C- 5
D 4
E repeat during summer
F fail
for each course and then we are evaluated out of 10 according to the grades in each subject........any comment on this type of grading system ....how good or bad is this????
abhinavgakhar
we here at IIT DELHI INDIA grading system
A 10
A- 9
B 8
B- 7
C 6
C- 5
D 4
E repeat during summer
F fail
for each course and then we are evaluated out of 10 according to the grades in each subject........any comment on this type of grading system ....how good or bad is this????
_AVG_
abhinavgakhar wrote:
we here at IIT DELHI INDIA grading system
A 10
A- 9
B 8
B- 7
C 6
C- 5
D 4
E repeat during summer
F fail
for each course and then we are evaluated out of 10 according to the grades in each subject........any comment on this type of grading system ....how good or bad is this????


What's the point? It's mostly giving letter names to different numbers. The only interesting one was "E" though
ocalhoun
_AVG_ wrote:
abhinavgakhar wrote:
we here at IIT DELHI INDIA grading system
A 10
A- 9
B 8
B- 7
C 6
C- 5
D 4
E repeat during summer
F fail
for each course and then we are evaluated out of 10 according to the grades in each subject........any comment on this type of grading system ....how good or bad is this????


What's the point? It's mostly giving letter names to different numbers. The only interesting one was "E" though

The really interesting question is what happens to an "F" student, if "E" is 'repeat'...
Do they just get branded as failures forever, and never get to try it again?
bukaida
ocalhoun wrote:
_AVG_ wrote:
abhinavgakhar wrote:
we here at IIT DELHI INDIA grading system
A 10
A- 9
B 8
B- 7
C 6
C- 5
D 4
E repeat during summer
F fail
for each course and then we are evaluated out of 10 according to the grades in each subject........any comment on this type of grading system ....how good or bad is this????


What's the point? It's mostly giving letter names to different numbers. The only interesting one was "E" though

The really interesting question is what happens to an "F" student, if "E" is 'repeat'...
Do they just get branded as failures forever, and never get to try it again?



Very Happy Usualy they loose the year .The four year BTech course takes five or six years for them.
Bluedoll
I believe too much put on grades can cause stress and cause an unhealthy focus on just the scholastic rating. Some might argue, that is the way of the world Twisted Evil but I am not too sure it is the way to go. One school in my area does away with the marking scheme altogether. Razz Of course new students are screened and if there is a problem identified in the year, the student is assessed because after all, the reputation of the school at stake. There is a zero marking, yes, that is right, students graduate with records of achievements but no marks. Of course this is a school for creativity – the arts. Cool
_AVG_
I actually recall an innovative concept of "Effort Grades" - in my high school, in addition to receiving the regular "A-", "C+", etc. we would get what we called "Effort Grades" - numbers from 1 to 4 with 1 representing the highest effort a student could put in - that means that you are graded on how much work you do.

Do you think it's too extreme to have just an effort grade and no academic grades ? Or do you think a combination of them is what is required ?
ocalhoun
_AVG_ wrote:

Do you think it's too extreme to have just an effort grade and no academic grades ? Or do you think a combination of them is what is required ?

Definitely too extreme to have effort-grades only.

Look at it from the perspective of a prospective employer... Your applicant shows consistently good effort-grades, 3's and 4's all the way, but did the applicant ever actually learn and understand the lessons? You have no way to know; all you know is that he tried very hard.

Now, it is a very good thing to be able to know how hard a student tried -- that level of effort is likely to carry on into the workplace... But it is essential to know how much the student actually knows and understands.
(For example, a retard could put in 100% effort at all times, and yet learn and understand very little, making him unqualified for the hypothetical job... Meanwhile a genius could learn quite a lot without putting forth much effort at all. If your objective is to find out if the applicant has the requisite knowledge for the job, then the level of learning is much more important than the effort put forth to get it.)

So, yes it would be great to have effort-grades, but only in conjunction with the more traditional grades.

*edit*
I may be somewhat biased, because I am a lazy near-genius.
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