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9th Grade Health Class No Longer Pass/Fail

Letter Grading Scale to be Initiated

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As freshmen filed into their first health class of the year on September 1, they were greeted with a surprise. After years of following a pass/fail grading scale in ninth-grade health class, Upper School Counselor Binita Donohue and Upper School Counselor Gary Childrey decided to change to an A through F grading scale.

This year, students in Health class are being graded in three primary areas of study. Written reflections constitute 35 percent of the final grade, group projects 30 percent, and participation 35 percent.

According to the class syllabus, there are four sub-sections associated with the written reflection. The first sub-section asks students to reflect on the relevance of a topic to the Parker community while the other three are more focused on specific units of study within the Health curriculum. For example, Donohue and Childrey ask their students to write about their sleep cycles for a brief time during class when they learn about the importance of sleep.

Although this is the first year Donohue and Childrey decided to change the grading scale, it’s not the first time they’ve thought about it. “It’s been something that we’ve considered every year that I have been here,” Donohue said. “But prior to this year, we’ve felt that the negatives outweighed the positives.”

According to Donohue, there are two specific factors as to why they did not shift the grading scale prior. “One, we often think about the ninth grade transition and not having students worry about grades,” Donohue said. “We want students to learn and not have to worry about performance.”

“Two, because it’s being taught by counselors, we want to protect the relationship with students so that if I have an experience with a student in health class, and I have to evaluate that student,” Donohue said, “maybe they won’t feel as willing to come to me later in high school if they needed a counselor because the grade I gave them is impacting the relationship negatively.

But Donohue and Childrey saw the balance tip toward the positive. “We’ve had the conversation every year,” Donoahue said, “so we decided why not do something different.”

According to Donohue, she and Childrey met with division heads, grade heads, and the administration during the process of making this decision.

“We were concerned with the level of engagement with the material,” Donohue said. “Grades are one way to show that students are taking the class more seriously.”

Senior Mitchell Bedows believes that implementing a grading scale into Health class is a mistake. “Health class had a certain authenticity to it because students thought they were there for the benefits of the material not just to fulfill a requirement,” Bedows said. “Now it will lose that authenticity with a letter grading system.”

Freshman Daniel Mansueto thinks otherwise. “I can see why the health teachers would want a change with regard to how seriously some of the kids were taking the class,” Mansueto said. “Students will definitely have to think about their behavior now that there is a grade on the line.”

According to Mansueto, the freshmen have not resisted the change in grading scale. “I think that this could be a good thing going forward,” Mansueto said, “because, as important as health is, it’s important that we receive the information so that we can learn it the best we can.”

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School
9th Grade Health Class No Longer Pass/Fail