MCPS will move to a pass/incomplete grading framework for the fourth marking period for middle and high school students, Deputy Superintendent Monifa B. McKnight announced in an April 19 email to community members. The change comes two days after State Superintendent Karen Salmon extended school closures through May 15 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Officials made the decision after reviewing approaches of other public school districts, contacting colleges and universities, and receiving feedback from stakeholders, which include teachers, parents, students and union leaders.
“As is the case with any grading policy, there is no perfect grading system, which is amplified even more now during a very stressful time for families,” McKnight wrote in the email. “However, we believe [these strategies] for grading and reporting will let us know if students are learning, without penalizing them for the impact the global pandemic may have had on their families.”
MCPS officials will provide more information, including how the second semester will be reported, in the coming weeks.
Online middle and high school instruction will continue as it did during third quarter regarding office hours and schedules. McKnight noted that “upgrades for the 4th Marking Period will be sent next week.”
Daily student attendance will not be taken traditionally, but teachers and administrators will monitor student engagement and participation in three ways: assignment completion, whether students are attending live sessions and office hours, and email or phone calls with students, parents or guardians.
Regarding make-up days, the State Board of Education voted to waive five of 10 emergency closure days from March 16 to March 27, meaning that school districts in Maryland will only need to make up five days. MCPS has already made up three of these days by shortening spring break, and has an additional unused emergency closure day, leaving the county with only one day to make up. Officials plan to use April 28, which was originally Maryland’s primary election day, to make up the instructional day. The last day of school this year remains unchanged, and will still be June 15.
While some students aren’t explicitly in favor of the new grading system, they understand the importance of flexibility regarding grading during this time, junior Kushan Weerakoon said.
“I’m not necessarily happy about it, but I think it’s the best move given the lack of reliability in online grading,” he said. “We all have to adjust in light of a pandemic.”
Ally Navarrete contributed to this article.
For more information on the COVID-19 pandemic, please refer to these resources:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization
Maryland Department of Health
Montgomery County Public Schools
Montgomery County Department of Disease Control and Epidemiology — 240-777-1755
Maryland Department of Health and Infectious diseases — 410-767-6700