BOE decides on policy for second semester grades, gives students a choice


Graphic courtesy MCPS

MCPS Board of Education members decided on how semester grades will be reported on semester 2 transcripts.

By Emily London

MCPS students now have the choice between a pass/incomplete or one letter grade above their third marking period grade on their second semester transcript. Board of Education members adopted the policy during a May 12 board meeting after moving to a pass/incomplete grading system for the fourth marking period April 19.

Students who choose to have a  “pass” on their transcript will not have their GPA impacted, while the choice of a letter grade will be factored in as normal. All transcripts will be marked with a message that the student earned the grade during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Board members voted 7–1 in favor of this policy for a variety of reasons. Board member Patricia O’Neill said that students weren’t given fair opportunities to retake tests and that grades typically trend upwards in the fourth marking period.

“I believe wholeheartedly that students should have the option to have a grade on their transcript,” O’Neill said in the meeting. “But I also believe we have to be fair.”

Most students will take a letter grade, but schools will “need to do an exceptionally good job of counseling students about the benefits of each option,” Superintendent Jack Smith said. 

Junior Julia Federing plans to choose a letter grade, but is glad that MCPS will give students the option to decide for themselves how to evaluate their grades, she said.

“This way, it won’t be unfair to the kids who have worked really hard or to the kids with circumstances they can’t control,” Federing said. “It’s just the right call to have this compromise.”