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    Grading and Progress Report Updates for Spring Semester 2020
    Posted on 04/28/2020

    Grading and Progress Report Updates for Spring Semester 2020

    Our students come first. As a district we are committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that every child achieves their full potential in any learning environment. In the last seven weeks, staff have demonstrated this commitment again and again. We have implemented new and innovative solutions to help all students successfully learn from home and we remain adamant about resolving inequities across the district. From the beginning, we stepped up to address the basic needs of our students and we continue to build a coordinated, consistent learning approach that will support students, families, and educators as we navigate this unprecedented time together.

    Introduction of New Grading Practices

    It would have been easy to continue using the grading practices already in place. And yet, even before grading guidance from OSPI was issued, our staff’s commitment was to lead with compassion and “to do no harm.” Read the OSPI guidance.

    Grading has long been one of the biggest sources of inequities in education because grades may be influenced by factors outside a student’s control, including access to resources and opportunities outside of school. School closures have made these disparities even more apparent. In the past, schools have helped ensure students have comparable access to learning tools, instruction, technology, and wrap around supports — with our doors closed, this is much more difficult.

    Our efforts with these temporary grading practices is to address, as best we can, the variability in access and inherent biases in grading. This temporary policy is the best possible way to protect our students from harm and to honor their hard work under extremely difficult circumstances while not penalizing anyone for factors outside their control.

    The following principles guided the development of the new grading practices and reflect our unwavering commitment to advancing racial equity:

    • Ensure that the negative impact of the school closures on students, especially students furthest from educational justice, is minimized.
    • Keep students engaged in learning.
    • Keep educators engaged in teaching.
    • Engage families as partners in supporting their student(s).
    • Meet the state’s requirement to make a good faith effort in providing meaningful high school credit-earning opportunities.
    • Provide space for flexibility and individualized plans to ensure equitable outcomes; and
    • Promote common expectations across all schools.

    High School Credit Bearing Courses

    In alignment with these goals, on April 20, the school board voted to temporarily suspend portions of the district's high school grading policy (Policy 2420 pdf icon) so that students taking high school courses will receive either an "A" or an "Incomplete" for the duration of the COVID-19 related school closures. This change applies to all high school students or middle school students taking a high school course, including those receiving specialized services. While there is no perfect solution, the A/I grading option recognizes the challenges faced by all students and intentionally minimizes harm for students furthest away from educational justice while also adhering to guidance from OSPI. To receive an "A," students will engage to the extent possible in activities or learning provided. SPS students will receive "A's" in their second semester high school courses in nearly all cases. When in doubt about whether a student had the ability to engage in learning or activities, a student should receive an "A." For example, if a teacher is unable to communicate with a student during school closure and it is unclear whether the student had the ability to engage in learning, the student should still receive an "A" grade. Receiving an "A" does not necessarily indicate that students were able to access all of the support outlined in their IEP or 504 plan or receive the language support they need, nor does it indicate that they are no longer in need of these services.

    Potential "Incompletes" will be carefully monitored by school leaders and every effort to engage students in learning will be made. In the rare case a teacher thinks a student should receive an "Incomplete," the teacher will need to follow a multi-step process before submitting the final grade. This process will require the teacher to: notify and work with school administration, document the student had the ability to engage in learning but chose not to do so, document multiple efforts to communicate and re-engage the student with learning, document multiple efforts to communicate with the student’s family, including multiple methods: phone, email, and through outside organizations, develop an individual learning plan for the student to receive an "A" for the course, communicate this plan to the student and family, and help implement the plan. This process exists to serve as a safeguard to minimize harm to students during this semester, particularly for students furthest from educational justice.

    Students will have the opportunity to appeal an "Incomplete" or complete the individual learning plan by the end of the first semester of the 2020-21 school year and receive an "A." Any changes to the 2019-20 second semester grade will be adjusted on the student’s transcript. Following OSPI’s guidance, in the rare cases when students are assigned an "Incomplete" for a course, they may be given opportunities such as the following to change their grade: summer school, courses in the following term or year, independent study, competency-based courses, online courses, or backfilling the "Incomplete" grade with the letter grade obtained in the next course taken in that subject area.

    To learn more about the new temporary high school grading policy, including the timeline for communicating "Incompletes" and appeals, please visit the High School Grading FAQ.

    Middle School and Elementary School

    Middle school and elementary grading practices were also adjusted for Spring 2020 and guided by the same principles. Middle school students will receive a "P" for passing, unless taking a high school course. Middle school students will be asked to remain engaged in the standards-based activities or learning assigned by their teacher(s) to the extent possible. Elementary students won't receive a score for each standard for Trimester 3, those fields will be left blank in the progress report. Instead, progress reports for Trimester 3 will include robust teacher comments about student learning during the closure and guidance for continued support for each student until schools are back in session. It is expected that all students will move onto the next grade, unless there is a specific conversation and agreement with a student's teaching team and family. Students receiving special education services will receive an elementary progress report for Trimester 3, along with their IEP goal reports. As is routine practice at the beginning of each school year, all students will be evaluated when they return to school determine how learning will be supported for the school year. Seattle Public Schools is committed to ensuring that all students are brought up to appropriate grade-level standards, despite the extended school closure.

    Additional information can be found in the Grading FAQ.

    Seattle Public Schools is committed to working with educators, school leaders, and families to support the best continuous learning system possible during this time — including our grading practices. Questions or concerns about grading during school closures may be sent to Seattle Public Schools with our Let’s Talk contact form.