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SB Unified School District Grading Updates

These past few weeks have been hectic, as coronavirus rates spiked after the holiday season, the SB Unified school district was faced with new challenges and decisions. While the January 5th board meeting addressed the ways the district schools are attempting to adapt to the pandemic through ventilation systems and teacher testing when in-person school resumes, one of the main topics was grading policy. Due to the increased number of Ds and Fs resulting from online learning, it was proposed at the board meeting on the 5th to get rid of these letter grades altogether.

The factors that the district considered which impacted this grading policy were cited as: that teachers top priority is to respond to students individual needs in ways that display flexibility and sensitivity to factors beyond students control, (such as a distracting at-home learning environment)  and that grade scales should be asset oriented as opposed to punitive in their design and application. Grading policies have fluctuated through the progression of the pandemic with the end of the 2019-2020 school year having the option for a credit/no credit option on student’s transcripts instead of a grade. This change occurred after many national organizations such as the IB and AP program re-evaluated how to teach and grade during the pandemic and the new era of remote learning.  This letter grade reintroduction occurred due to universities not extending the waiver to accept the credit/no credit marks. However despite this brief grading change, for terms 2 and 3 of the 2020-2021 SB unified school year, no change to the grading policy was made until January 12th.

 According to a quote from one of the board meeting academic supervisors, “throughout the fall term SB unified has been studying the student engagement data, and student academic performance data, and now in response to the data we’re seeing both quantitatively and qualitatively that we’re at a point where its become very apparent that we need to re-examine what the appropriate grading policy is to give clarity to students, families, and staff; about how we can effectively evaluate and communicate student progress during these times and these conditions.” Data compiled throughout the fall and winter, or terms 1 and 2, that influenced the abolishment of Ds and Fs include that roughly a third of students have a D or F in at least one class, that there is an increase in the number of students earning a D or F in 3 or more classes compared to prior years, and that rates of D and F’s are disproportionately higher among the four traditionally underserved student groups: Latinx students, students with disabilities, socio-economically disadvantaged students, and emergent multilingual learners.

The policy that was enacted January 12 compiles that, student may earn a letter grade of A,B,or C, Incomplete (I), or No Credit (NC) and that no student shall receive a D or F. When a mark incomplete is issued, specific learning tasks will be assigned which, upon completion on or before June 2nd, 2021, result in a conversion of the mark to letter grade of C or better. When a mark of No Credit is issued, there must be documentation of consultation between the individual teacher and parent/guardian in which a plan for recovering learning, and credit is determined on or before January 29th, 2021.When in person grading resumes, the board will revisit the grading policy, and most likely adjust the dissolving of Ds and Fs enacted on Januaary 12th.

Sources:  School board meetings:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WcOwLl6AtA&list=PLsZpC-3zCQYsGvRoUmIm9uQ5ESiY8FLPI&index=1

Author

  • Isabella Vasquez

    Isabella (Bella) Vasquez is currently a senior in the Multimedia Arts and Design Academy at Santa Barbara high school. On her free time she enjoys mountain biking, making jewelry, and volunteering. She is honored to be the managing editor of The Forge this year, and hopes to provide quality articles and relevant news to Santa Barbara High School's community.

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