Teachers now have the green light to provide grades that can account for the chaotic moment of history in which their students had to learn.
The Rochester School Board approved a motion on Tuesday that allows educators to factor in the mid-year transition to distance learning -- caused by the COVID-19 pandemic -- into their grading practices.
Brenda Wichmann, executive director of curriculum and instruction for the school district, gave a presentation on the topic, explaining the grading guidelines the district created.
“We don’t feel that we can have the same standards and expectations during this unexpected distance learning period because so many factors are not in our control,” Wichmann said.
Wichmann said there were many voices that went into the guidelines about grading, including building leaders and other school districts.
“When people were asking about grading in those initial days, we just said ‘focus on what’s most important, keep connected to your kids, and we’ll figure this out,'” Wichmann said.
Per the guidelines, secondary students will receive grades of A, B, Pass or No Credit. The grades of Pass and No Credit will not impact students’ grades or class rank. The No Credit grade is meant for students “who haven’t engaged in any way during the Distance Learning period, and after multiple attempts to engage them,” according to the guidelines.
Elementary students will receive one of three marks: “met standard,” “standard not graded,” or “teacher does not have sufficient evidence to know if standard was met.” Wichmann said “not graded” simply means the teacher didn’t get to it, which is acceptable.
The guidelines also say that no student will be held back for the following year based on their performance during distance-learning alone.
“Students should be held harmless for spring grades,” the guidelines say. “In other words, students should not receive a lower grade than those they were already on track to receive before distance-learning began.”