Grading on a COVID Curve

Districts must evaluate virtual learning

As the inevitability of students completing the school year on a screen looms closer, so too does the difficult decision about how to best evaluate their work.

School officials throughout the Highlands agree they’re not likely to use standard grading during the final quarter of the 2019-20 session.

In Beacon, Superintendent Matt Landahl said a team of administrators and teachers is leaning toward having educators assess whether students are submitting their work and meeting more broadly defined learning standards.

“We initially thought of using a pass/fail grading system,” Landahl said, “but we have a lot of kids who are working hard,” so pass/fail may not satisfy them.

The district’s standards will be based on “compassion and understanding, now that we’re essentially partnering with our families on education,” Landahl said. “We don’t want a grade to be the main emphasis, but we’re also trying to find a system that acknowledges the hard work students are doing.”

At Haldane, Superintendent Phil Benante said in an email that elementary school teachers will monitor students’ work as “complete, in progress or missing,” while providing “descriptive feedback.” At the middle and high school levels, teachers will work with students to create learning plans while tracking progress toward “essential learning outcomes.” The district has not yet decided how to administer grades for secondary students, he wrote.

At Garrison, which has students from kindergarten through eighth grade, an e-learning plan issued on April 9 said that “classwork and homework will continue to be graded based upon the academic expectations established by each teacher,” although, initially, the educators will mark assignments for completion rather than for a grade. “We are still working on the most sensible approach to quarter, semester and final grades,” it said.


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