Oregon Announces Pass or Incomplete Grading System

Claire Sarnowski

LHS students will find that comparing test scores or project grades with each other is less interesting now that there are only two grades- P or I.

On April 16, the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) announced that all high schools would be switching their distance learning system to one that gives passing or incomplete grades in all classes. This new system means that students will be receiving credit for the spring semester by completing work and participating regularly.

The state announced these changes two weeks after Governor Kate Brown’s announcement regarding extending the statewide school closure through the 2020-2021 academic year.

Each Oregon school district is approaching ODE’s new guidelines differently. For LOSD, all students K-11 will be finishing the year using online learning tools. Currently, LOSD students are using online resources such as Google Meets, Google Classroom and Khan Academy to learn remotely.

Due to the different populations and needs of school districts across the state, the implementation of the guidelines will be up to each school district.  

In an email to LOSD families last week, Superintendent Lora de la Cruz described how students will continue to receive meaningful feedback on their work with the pass/incomplete system.

“Feedback will focus on how a student is progressing and showing proficiency with specific skills and standards, for example, through rubrics, written comments, and coaching in a timely manner among others,” said de la Cruz. 

The announcement has left some LHS families wondering how the grading system will accommodate various students’ circumstances and needs. 

In ODE’s guidance plan, the state included the “Safeguarding Student Opportunity Clause” which acknowledges some students may be unable to engage with their studies or be located by their school. If the high school student was passing classes before March 13 and cannot complete remote learning tasks, they will earn an incomplete and be expected to make the work up at a later date.

While it may seem to some that grades are less important since they are no longer on an A-F scale, LHS Assistant Principal, Kristen Colyer, hopes that you will take this time using distance learning to prepare for the next school year.

“I hope students have time to dig deeper into their own learning,” said Colyer. “Take feedback from teachers and peers and have that take center stage while grades, for at least this semester, take a seat” 

Some students are concerned about the grading system’s impact on the college admissions process in the coming years. Universities across the nation including the University of Oregon, Oregon State University and the University of Washington have disclosed that they will not penalize students because of pass/incomplete grades. 

In a statement, the executive director of the Oregon School Boards Association, Jim Green, wrote in favor of ODE’s new system.

“This is a thoughtful, statewide approach that keeps our high school students on track to graduate,” said Green. “It mirrors what many colleges and districts around the country are doing.” 

Although it is unclear what the future of learning will hold for Oregon students hoping to return to classrooms in the fall, the pass/incomplete grading plan is an essential piece for students to finish out the remainder of the year with remote learning.