Update from Principal Talbot Regarding Grading
April 29, 2020
Dear PHS Students and Families,
Once again, I hope that this communication finds each of you well during this historically difficult time. With each passing day, we understand the mounting pressures that are impacting your lives, and we remain thankful to each of you for your support and patience as we continue to redefine what education looks like in the Spring of 2020.
Over the past several weeks, a team of administrators from across the district has been researching and analyzing many grading formulas to determine our students’ final grades and GPA impact. This process, which has also included input from teachers, has taken longer than we all would have preferred, but we were determined to find a model that appropriately recognized the work that was done up until our shutdown of March 13 (almost ¾ of the school year) as well as the challenges of incorporating our unchartered period of remote learning.
While there were so many factors that we took into consideration during these discussions, we never wavered from our primary mission of developing a formula that did not unduly burden our students. In fact, if we are guilty of arriving at a grading model that generously favors our students, then I’m proud to be guilty as charged. After all, all of this is out of their control.
Despite the incredible efforts of our staff, our students, and their families, learning is not happening in the way that we are used to. Heck, life is not happening in the way that we are used to! The emotional strain this period of time is taking on all of us, including our students, factored heavily in our decision, for we have no way of knowing how each student is balancing the many demands placed upon them at this time, demands that include but also transcend school. Devising a grading system that struck that balance and erred in their favor was paramount to us.
We readily acknowledge that there isn’t a perfect system out there and trying to solve for every “what if” is a fruitless activity. However, we are pleased with what we have come up with. If you have any questions after viewing this FAQs document, please do not hesitate to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marc Talbot, principal
2019-2020 PHS Grading Guidelines
What are the dates for Term 4?
- April 6, 2020-June 16, 2020 for grades 7-11
- April 6, 2020-May 29, 2020 for seniors
Will there be final exams for students in grades 9-12?
How will the Term 4 grades be determined?
- In keeping with the Commissioner of Education Jeff Riley’s recommendation, Term 4 grades will receive a credit or no credit designation.
How does a student earn credit for an assignment or for the term?
- Again, in keeping with the recommendations from the DESE and the Commissioner, schools are to take into consideration the challenges many students, families, and educators face and award credit for work that shows earnest engagement and “meaningful participation.”
Since there are no traditional letter grades for Term 4, how will students’ final grades be determined?
- We will arrive at students’ final grades in two steps.
- First, we will use the traditional grades earned in Terms 1, 2, and 3, as well as the midyear exam, using the following formula
- T1-35%, T2-35%, MYE- 10%, T3-20%
- Once we get a number using that formula, we will look to see if a student earned credit during this period of remote learning. If the student did, the final grade will increase by 1/3 of a letter grade. If the student did not earn credit during the period of remote learning, the final grade will decrease by 1/3 of a letter grade. (See the chart below)
As an example, consider the following hypothetical case: A student has earned the following grades: T1-85, T2-87, MYE-80, T3-84 = 85 (B) YTD.
- If that student earns credit for T4, that B becomes a B+ final grade
- If that student does not earn credit, that B becomes a B- final grade
- For semester-based courses in the second semester, the grades are calculated based on the chart below
What will teachers be entering into PowerSchool to track student progress?
- Teachers will be using the following PS codes
- Check mark = will be used to indicate that the work has been submitted and has earned credit
- Check mark = will be used to indicate that a student attended a Meet, Office Hour etc. These are not mandatory and there will not be a penalty for students if they don’t attend. The check mark is just a nice way to collect data.
- Incomplete = will be used to indicate that the work was received, but it could still be improved. Teacher feedback will indicate suggestions for improvement, but the assignment will ultimately receive credit.
- Exempt= will be used to indicate that a student is exempt from an assignment for any one of a variety of reasons. This will not be held against a student.
- Missing= an assignment could be marked as missing if it is not turned in or if it is turned in but does not show the “meaningful participation” that the teacher expects. The teacher will provide feedback to the student for resubmission, and upon meeting that expectation, credit can be assigned. If not, the assignment will not receive credit.
What are Google Meets (or office hours) and are they required?
- Teachers are required to offer their students three points of “real” contact per week. This contact can take many forms: a Google Meet (video conference), a phone call, a scheduled block of time when teachers can answer email correspondence in real time, just to name a few.
- Attendance at these meetings or office hours is not required, and students will not be penalized if they don’t attend.
- Students can attend if they have a particular question and want to have something explained. Sometimes, it is a nice way to connect with teachers and classmates.
When do these meeting opportunities occur?
- In order to strike a balance between structure and flexibility, we have created the schedule below.
- Each day has a morning slot and an afternoon slot, with departments assigned to a particular slot two days a week.
- Teachers then have the flexibility to schedule a meeting or an office hour at a specific time within that slot.
- Wednesdays are a “flex day,” with students free to connect with teachers on an as needed basis and at time that is mutually convenient. The “flex day” constitutes the third opportunity for student-teacher contact.
What is the expectation around exploring new content vs. reinforcing skills and concepts already taught?
- Once again, taking our guidance from the Commissioner, we will be adhering to the "Massachusetts Secondary Pre-Requisite Content Standards" that the DESE released late last week. These standards address the concepts and skills that the DESE deems necessary for student success at the next grade level.
- Many of these standards have already been covered by our students and teachers this year. In these cases, our teachers will continue to broaden our students’ depth of understanding of them.
- For any standards not yet covered, our students and staff will cover this new material during our period of remote learning.
Will Progress Reports be issued for Term 4?
- We will issue (and mail home) Progress Reports in two waves:
- May 11 for seniors
- May 18 for students in grades 9-11
How will GPA be calculated?
- For all students, GPA will be calculated based on the final grades at the end of T4.
website revised 5.12.20