ACPS could adjust grades in recognition of COVID challenges

ACPS could be adjusting its grading scale in recognition of the additional challenges posed for students by COVID-19.

In a report to the Alexandria City School Board scheduled for the meeting tomorrow (Thursday), staff is recommending that some exam grades be dropped and students be given additional changes to repeat assignments for a higher grade.

“In response to the unprecedented challenges faced by students during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, staff recommends adjusting secondary grading practices as follows for the 2020-2021 school year,” staff said in a memo. “As these adjustments in implementation do not alter IKC-R’s (Regulations Governing the Grading Policy) current provisions, School Board action is not required. These proposals continue to be shared with school and administrative staff to obtain additional insight.”

The memo is authored by Gerald Mann, Jr., executive director of instructional support for ACPS, T.C. Williams High School Principal Peter Balas, and others in ACPS administration.

The report said the adjusted grating will omit final exams if that the student would have otherwise passed the course  — reflecting that the situation for many of those students had changed.

“Schools will review grades from courses that ended at the first semester to determine whether omitting the student’s final exam would have resulted in a higher grade,” staff recommended for High School grades from the first semester. “If so, the final exam grade will be deleted, the final grade recalculated, and a grade change completed.”

The memo also included calculations for how grades will be measured if no final exam is given.

For assignments from the third quarter of the school year, staff is recommending that students be allowed to complete any reassessments for up to a maximum revised grade of 80% and makeup work without penalty. Students will be provided an automatic opportunity for reassessment on any assessment for which a grade of D or less was earned in the third of fourth quarters of the school year.

The memo is supported by Superintendent Gregory Hutchings.

By adjusting implementation of secondary grading practices (Regulation IKC-R) for the 2020- 2021 school year, ACPS will:

  • Recognize the ongoing impact of providing new instruction to students remotely and to address learning loss due to the spring 2020 school closures
  • Align with the Virginia Department of Education’s (VDOE’s) return to school plan implementing Virginia’s phased reopening of K-12 schools during the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • Ensure maximum flexibility and benefit for ACPS students while maintaining opportunities for mastery of content standards.

If approved the changes would go into effect for grading practices in the 2020-2021 school year.