Student View: Grades


Sam Mitten

The standard American grading system of A through F has been in place for nearly 230 years, after the first grades were given by the president of Yale Reverend Ezra Stiles, who wrote: “Twenty Optimi, 16 second Optimi, 12 Inferiores, 10 Pejores” in his personal diary.

Ever since that event, students have been receiving grades based on their performances within their classes. Though unlike Stiles who delivered his grades, in secret, based upon their actions within relation to their students and given as an overall grade, students today receive grades that show their abilities and how well they demonstrate their knowledge taught to them by their teachers, or do they?

Students may look at their grades and see they’re passing all their classes, but their peers are passing with better grades than them. Say, for example, that student Trevor Mandy is passing his classes, and his grades are better than a fellow unnamed student, one may call him John Doe. Would it really be fair to stigmatize this John Doe as a lazy student? Or would it be more fair to create a  pass-fail system?

“I feel that the A-F system is fair, but the Pass-Fail system is unfair to those willing to achieve more,” said Mandy Says, whosaid an 80 percent would be fair. “I wouldn’t like it because my grades are good enough to where they look better than a ‘pass’ on my transcript.”

What do other students think?


“I would like it because it would make it easier on me as a student because that would take the stress away from trying to get the higher grades all the time.” — Freshman Will Reed
“Well, me personally, it’s never been that big of a deal for me because I’ve always been a pretty good student… I like the differentiation just because, you know, I can kind of tell where I’m at. Like, if I get a B, I know I need to work on that class.” – Sophomore Matthew Hoeppner

“I would feel awesome about [a pass-fail system] because I feel like there are a lot of assignments that they put more value into than there really needs to be, and if you don’t do some assignments then you end up more, not judged, but you wouldn’t be as harshly punished for not doing them, and it just works out better for everyone involved.” – Junior Emily Mertens

“It would be really cool, like, I’d really like it, because then I don’t have to worry about, ‘Oh iIhave a C in this class, and a B in that class,’ It’s just more of an, ‘I’m passing,’ sort of thing.” – Senior Kelsey Bullard

By Sam Mitten