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Opinion: Grades, Credit/No Credit, or both 

By Maureen “Mo” Muir

On April 21, during the last San Dieguito Union High School District board meeting, the board had what some would consider a simple choice to make on a critical decision.

What type of grading system should the school district utilize during this school term?

a. Grades

b. Credit/No Credit

c. All of the Above

After three hours of focused discussions, the board majority (3-1-1) gave the superintendent direction to move forward on Option B, “Credit/No Credit.”

I strongly spoke out against the issuance of only C/NC this school term. Parents and students should be allowed the option to choose between C/NC or grades.

As a parent, I would select grades, but allowing for Option C, “All of the Above,” seems to work for everyone. Even in college, students have a choice between grades or C/NC. The advantages and disadvantages are well known and the choice is up to each student.

Offering only C/NC appears to be an academic risk that could impact our students’ academic futures. We also need to continue to motivate our students to reach higher. Do you really believe C/NC is a better motivator than grades?

This is an important decision for our college-bound students. As students pursue the colleges of their choice, grades may make a difference in the very competitive college acceptance process. Grades may also impact the ability for students to receive merit aid or scholarships.

Our neighbor, the Carlsbad School District, just voted this week for Option C.

This will allow the students to choose a traditional letter grade for all courses (with GPA weight) or receive C/NC for all classes (with no impact on student GPAs). While many school districts are currently in discussion, all local private high schools (that I have spoken with) are giving grades as an option.

According to the College Board AP Exam Webinar in April, 86% of AP teachers are still giving letter grades. Once again, the district students could be constrained when competing with students across the nation for admission and scholarships.

Letter grades will also give our junior students a chance to improve their GPAs this semester, since ACT and SAT exams will not be required for college admissions in 2020-2021.

Our district is known statewide as a leader in academics. We raise our children to become future leaders and professionals within their chosen fields.

Our children are educated here to conquer their challenges, reach their educational goals, and be successful in whatever occupations they choose.

Our bar has never been simply “Credit or No Credit.” Offering students a choice is a win-win option for everyone, so why is the district struggling to reach this conclusion?

During these unfortunate and challenging times, the question is easy and the answer is obvious. What’s best for the students? The answer is clear: “Option C. All of the Above” (grades or C/NC)!

Mo Muir, Vice President & Board Member
San Dieguito Union High School District


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