College students press Georgia lawmakers on pass/fail grading system amid COVID-19 pandemic

State Rep. David Wilkerson 1
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ATLANTA—State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Powder Springs), along with other members of the Georgia General Assembly, recently hosted a virtual town hall meeting to hear from college students on the impact that COVID-19 is having on their transition to learning strictly online.

Dozens of students are urging the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents’ to institute a pass/fail grading system, instead of the traditional letter grade, in the wake of the COVID-`9 pandemic. Some of the students say they lack high-speed internet at home and must go to other places—sometimes late at night—and sit in businesses’ parking lots to connect to the internet. They are worried that a low grade may threaten their scholarships.

Many colleges and universities across the country have implemented a pass/fail grading system as a result of the pandemic. Georgia’s Board of Regents, however, has not done so, with officials issuing a statement saying “ they trust faculty to “teach and grade students effectively.”

Wilkerson, who represents District 38, which includes portions of Cobb County, said he believes students need the opportunity to share their experiences.

“The Board of Regents has yet to give students an opportunity to tell their side,” said Wilkerson.  “As elected officials, we felt it our responsibility to hear these students out. Can colleges accurately measure these students’ academic achievement given they all continue to experience the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic differently?”

Students who participated in the virtual town hall meeting represented those attending Georgia’s post-secondary schools, including native Georgians, students from across the country and international students. The students shared personal stories regarding the effects of COVID-19 on the impact of transitioning to online learning, such as poor internet access, unsuitable home/living environment, limited support for students with disabilities and financial responsibilities.

To watch a video of the virtual town hall meeting, click here



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