Which type of grading system works best for the students
has been a debatable topic for a long time. Many practitioners believe that letter grading system is better than pass - fail grading system. On the other hand many practitioners don't agree with it as they find pass- fail grading system better than letter grading system. Hence, no firm decision has been made yet which grading system should be followed. As a result, many american public schools have removed the "A" to "F" grading system and substituted "Pass - Fail" grading system.
I believe that both the grading system have few pros and cons just like two sides of a coin. The pros of letter grading system are that it gives a variety of choice for the instructor to grade the student. A student gets the exact grade depending on his/her performance in the exam. Secondly, the student gets motivated to improve his/her result as they know how much improvement they need to get a better grade. For instance, I scored an A and my friend scored B in our math test. He was motivated to see my A grade to work hard and improve his grade in the next test. He knew he can get an A if he devoted extra time for his studies. I also worked hard to keep up with my scores and simultaneously, I boosted him to score A. I think if it would have been a pass - fail grading system then none of would have worked hard and persistently because passing the test would have been our primary concern rather than scoring well or improving. On the other hand, if we look at the cons of the "A" to "F" grading system we see that level of competition remains high resulting in students facing exam anxiety. Many students fear from giving exams. They fear of scoring low grades. While many students who have been scoring low scores throughout the year lose their self confidence. Many students even have suicidal tendencies by the end of the school year. The reason can be that they tried their best to improve the score but couldn't get a better grade. Many students also become a victim of bullying due to low scores. When I was in 10th grade, I had a classmate who had been scoring "D" in most of the exams. Before the final exams he tried to attempt suicide in school. Though he was saved but i know he and his parents would have been affected by that incident. Would it had been a pass - fail grading system, the student won't have tried to do suicide as he would have passed the tests like other classmates.
Many researchers find the "Pass - Fail" grading system works best for most of the students. They think that students are comfortable with this grading system as they don't fear scoring less than their peers, resulting in better performance. As all the students either pass or fail the subject, the competition remains under control. Secondly, it boosts their confidence and students don't face bullying either. Students can perform their best without the fear of being judged by their peers and teachers. For instance, one of cousins used to get a "D" in most of her initial schooling year. Despite of many efforts, her grades improved to "C" and nothing better. Her parents shifted her to a school where they had "Pass - Fail" grading system. Her confidence improved. Her understanding and learning of her subjects improved magnificently. Another positive point is that the students get personalized instructors statement about their progress which encourages the students. If we look at the cons of "Pass - Fail" grading system we see that all students are graded either pass or fail. The level of competition becomes null. Hence demotivating the high scorers. In fact many students may not put enough efforts to learn the concepts of a subject as they might think they can pass the exam with limited knowledge and study. This system doesn't gives the teachers enough choice to grade the students depending on their subject competency. All students are given either a "Pass - Fail" grade despite of hard work done by many students.
In the end I would say that both system had few positive and negative points. Letter grading system works for few students and pass - fail grading system works better for others. Therefore, it is best to leave it on the students and their parents to decide which scoring system would they prefer for themselves or their kids. Like many universities give options to the students if they want their result in letter grade or pass- fail. By individualizing the test scores depending on the choice made by the student will help the them rather than hindering in their exam performance.