New grading policy changes: fourth quarter weighs a quarter

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In light of remote learning, Principal Brian Condon has announced a new grading policy for the fourth and final marking period of the 2019-2020 school year.

In contrast to the past three marking periods for the school year, in which each marking period was weighted at a factor of 1.0, the fourth marking period will be weighted at a factor of 0.25. In addition, missing assignments will be marked with a placeholder grade, such as an “M” or 0, and given a grade of 55 if they are not submitted.

According to an email sent to students, these changes are being made to ensure that student grades are not too heavily impacted by the switch to remote learning. In the email, Mr. Condon wrote, “In these novel and uncertain times we are reconsidering many practices we used to take for granted: attendance, assessment, instruction etc.”

The aforementioned changes could also seemingly last through the next school year. History teacher and UFT chapter leader Franco Scardino said, “As we look to September to re-opening and ‘returning’ to school, I think it would be useful to have a larger conversation about weighting grades, form a coherent policy, and share it with everyone ASAP. We are in uncharted waters. Times like this require thoughtful and inclusive reflection and discussion. Since we have four marking periods, perhaps one proposal to consider for September is starting the first MP at .25 and then increasing the weight by .25 for the other MP so that we can go from .25 to 1.0 for the 4th MP next year.”

There has been some confusion over the policy, as indicated by Mr. Condon, who noted that the administration had attempted to send an email about the grading policy on May 26 but through an error, were “unsuccessful in doing so” until June 3. 

As a result, there were a variety of ways students found out about the shift in grading. Junior and SU executive at large Katie Hsu said, “I found out about the change in the grading policy through the SU chat.” 

Other students were notified about the change through updates from their teachers. Freshman David Babayev remarked, “Many of my teachers have emailed all the students in my classes about the new policy to inform us about our incoming assignments.”

Students shared a variety of opinions.

“It provides students with a little more comfort in their grades, since many people face different situations in their own home,” said David. “The new system could take the pressure off of students to not make them stress over getting good grades.”

Katie shared a similar sentiment stating that, “The new policy gives students the opportunity to relax after these hard times…[it] is a good way to transition into the summer.” 

On the other hand, some students disagreed with the new policy. Sophomore Haley O’Toole said, “It does not give students the incentive to complete their work maximizing their potential.”

In lieu of the new grading policy, Haley added, “I believe that [teachers] should just give extended periods of time to complete work rather than give a 55 placeholder due to the fact that students may not want to disclose what is going on in their life. I don’t think they should inform us about the policy so that students don’t get laid back.” 

In the email sent to students, Mr. Condon concluded, “We are here to support you and to ensure that remote learning does not adversely affect your grade. It is important to remain motivated these last few weeks, and do your best to complete as much missed work as possible in order to be ready for the next year.”