The district board voted on the new grading policy for distance learning on April 28. According to the board presentation, the decision was made with equity in mind. In the new grading policy, grades earned at the time of school closure can only improve, students can petition to receive credit instead of a letter grade, and students unable to participate will not be penalized. This new grading policy accurately adjusts to inequities in internet access, reflects the consensus of stakeholders, and considers students’ concerns.
Some students face a variety of problems, such as unstable internet connection, that make participating in distance learning difficult. As of April 28, 452 families have reported they do not have reliable internet access. These students would have been put at an academic disadvantage if the grading policy did not account for these unavoidable issues.
The grading policy enacted was a well-informed decision. The district aligned its grading policy with recommendations from the California Department of Education and the Los Angeles County Office of Education. These groups advised that students be held harmless and are offered the option to receive credit. Both of these suggestions are present in the grading policy. Additionally, the district consulted various stakeholders such as parents, students, and principals before making a decision. Because the district thoroughly researched guidelines and received input from stakeholders, the new grading policy is a supportive response to student needs.
The new policy reduces stress on students, whose primary concern should be to stay healthy and safe during the pandemic. The board reported that some students indicated that work varies by class and can be overwhelming. Students should not be expected to balance the pressures of a global pandemic and distance learning. Education is always important, but it cannot happen without student safety.
Admittedly, students may take advantage of the system by not participating and not receiving consequences for it. As a result of this, the grading policy discredits the work of teachers creating assignments and virtual lessons because they are not taken seriously. Although there are no explicit consequences to not participating, it is up to the student to realize that their participation is critical to their education. Even though the education provided now is not of the same caliber as a regular school year, it will still help students progress to the next level of classes.