By JENNIKA INGRAM | Reporter
The Palisades Charter High School Board of Trustees met virtually on March 31—the first-ever meeting of the board through Zoom.
With 48 participants, the meeting included more participants than what is typical, Community Chair Leslie Woolley shared.
During public comment, several Pali High students indicated concerns about the current grading system, as the campus has switched to eLearning in response to COVID-19. Students suggested the administration use a pass/fail system for the semester, as opposed to canceling grades altogether, as the governor of Florida did when ordering schools to remain closed through the end of the semester.
“In order to be aligned with the rest of the country and not to put our students at a disadvantage, since online schooling may not reflect the true nature of people’s grades, we should consider replacing the GPA system with pass/fail,” Pali High student Zennon Ulyate-Crow wrote into the meeting.
Ulyate-Crow added that canceling grades altogether would remove the motivation for many students to continue learning this semester and that a pass/fail system could solve this.
“With a pass or fail system, students will still have a motivation to keep learning, as they must complete coursework in order to pass their classes,” Ulyate-Crow said.
“I like the idea of a hybrid version because clearly we want to be supportive of anybody that has other challenges and things,” Sara Margiotta, a parent board member said.
Margiotta also pointed out some students are very academic and grades are a clear motivator for them: “I think that tends to support more groups within the school, more different learning styles.”
Students also expressed concerns about how this event will shape the college admission process.
“I know that among my peers, a huge issue many see with the pass or fail system is that they will not receive credit for hardworking classes that they took this year,” Ulyate-Crow said, “as they will lose the GPA boost that would typically accompany an AP or honors class.”
He added that although the classes may not count toward their GPA, colleges will likely factor in the demanding nature of the coursework.
“We are very carefully going to figure out what this GPA system will be,” Principal Dr. Pamela Magee explained. “I don’t know exactly what the answer is … students will not be penalized for something that has come out of the blue that they have absolutely no control over.”
She added that the school is going to closely monitor what the department of education says, what the universities are saying and look at all of the options.
“And we’re going to come up with something that is going to be right for all Pali students,” Magee continued. “And it may be a variety of options. It might not be a one-size-fits-all solution to this.”
Magee followed up with an email sent on Monday, April 6, reemphasizing that the school’s administrators are working with students and faculty to make decisions about grades and important events such as graduation, and that students will not be penalized because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pali High and LAUSD campuses are slated to remain closed through May 1 and will “very likely remain closed” past that date, Magee wrote, as Governor Gavin Newsom and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced recommendations that all schools remain closed for the duration of the school year.
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