NGs vs. Fs

One of Barlows graduating class holding their diplomas while hearing the final words of their graduation. 
One of Barlow’s graduating class holding their diplomas while hearing the final words of their graduation. 
Sam Barlow High School homepage

Most students strive for As and Bs when receiving a final grade in a class. What about those who will receive a failing grade of an F? Is there still a way for them to keep a high GPA or graduate? 

At Sam Barlow, the solution to these grades is called NGs (no grades) which allows students to have a second chance at getting the GPA they want on their transcript. 

Many students wish they could return to their early high school years and try harder to get better grades. A sophomore said, “If I could go back I would have tried much harder to get all As and Bs.” NGs could be the solution to a higher graduation rate, helping students get better jobs in the future and more. But they also can be seen as unfair, a way of cheating or getting out of your grades, and not truly earning the GPA you received.

NGs are a type of replacement grade for Fs. These grades will make the students failing grade, which brings their GPA down, to a grade that keeps their GPA up and makes it more possible to graduate. Though this seems like a good thing for students, is it fair? A freshman says, “I think it’s unfair to kids who work hard and get one B and all As, the NG student will get a higher GPA than them and could even be a valedictorian”. 

While another student said, “I would not want the title of failing my class especially if I usually get passing grades, so NGs would help.” While NGs might support a student who wants to pass and finish high school, it won’t help them get into college. Usually, colleges will see most of them as Fs and keep some as passing grades. This means that they will not be giving out scholarships to students who have one or many NGs on their transcript. 

At this time at Barlow, there is no rule about having one or multiple NGs and being a Valedictorian. This means that a student who technically failed a class and received an NG can become a Valedictorian as long as they complete the Scholars of Distinction requirements. One example from this year at Barlow is a senior who had a 4.0 GPA and then got his first-ever B in an AP math class. This brought his GPA to 3.8 and made it impossible for him to become Valedictorian. After an interview with a counselor at Barlow, it was brought to my attention that a student in our district has an NG grade and is a valedictorian this year. After seeing this problem from this point of view, it makes it clear how unfair NGs are. A student who works super hard inside and outside of school and receives one B in an AP class can’t be a Valedictorian while a kid who failed a class can. The Gresham Barlow School District is one of the only school districts in the Portland area that still gives out NGs after COVID-19 and lets students pass with an F as long as they redo the class. This makes students wonder if this is something that will be changed by next year.



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