New grading policy doesn’t help students enough

Gillian Hodgden, Editor-in-Chief

Our school  district recently was featured in the online education magazine EdSource. The article celebrated the district for making sure each student had a Chromebook for Distance Learning. The article also pointed out that the district purchased 500 Wi-Fi hotspots for students without Internet access at home. 

Although the district should be complimented for its efforts to help students with technology resources, and our teachers definitely should be praised for supporting student learning, our district’s Distance Learning grading policy is nothing to celebrate.

When schools were forced to close down in March due to the pandemic, each district was allowed to adopt its own grading guidelines. The Department of Education told districts to “do no harm” regarding student grades.

Students in Irvine will earn either Credit or No credit.

Students’ final grades in Anaheim cannot dip below their third quarter grades.

Students in the Placentia-Yorba Linda district will choose either Credit/No Credit or A-D/No Credit for each of their classes.

Students in the FJUHSD district, however, will receive a grade of A-C or No Credit for each class.

Although our district was more prepared than others to go into locked-down learning, we have been given a less forgiving grading policy. Sure, it’s a gift that a student earning 55% can now earn a C in a class, but many students would have benefitted from a Credit/No Credit option that would not damage their GPA.

And the policy itself, to be quite frank, is not good enough. There is no strong consideration for those students who cannot give school the same time and attention they were able to before COVID-19 hit. There are students working 22 hours a week and others who have to watch younger siblings while their parents go to work. They shouldn’t have to sacrifice their hard-earned grades from the third quarter because they were forced into a situation out of their control.

Fortunately, most FUHS teachers are sympathetic. They’re trying to hold students accountable for learning while being generous about late work. As the last day quickly approaches, the Tribe Tribune staff would like to urge teachers to think of their students’ struggles when finalizing semester grades. Going above what the district mandates as fair grading for this semester would mean so much to students, especially those who have been struggling. Your generosity means more than you could ever know. 

As we move forward through these unpredictable times, we also ask our district to please act with more urgency when making changes to policy that affects thousands of students and their families. We were nearly six weeks into Distance Learning before the district announced the updated grading policy on April 23. Students are still uncertain if and when they will return to campus in the fall, so we encourage school officials to take initiative within our community to shape future policy as quickly and safely as possible.

If our district can be first in distance learning technology, it can be first in timely communication.

Many students struggled to balance school, home and work responsibilities during Distance Learning. Photo illustration by Gillian Hodgden.