New grading guidelines floated as students struggle with school amid the pandemic

California Connection

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — The state superintendent is recommending all California public school districts use new grading guidelines as distance and hybrid learning continues.

“I think it’s less a matter of what does it look like on the report card and really more what are actually measuring,” said Daniel Thigpen, deputy superintendent of public instruction.

There is a new push for California’s public school districts to begin implementing new ways of grading as students continue distance learning.

“We have some students who are taking care of younger siblings, maybe both parents are working, maybe some of the students themselves are essential workers, and our teachers have recognized that those students need more flexibility,” Thigpen continued.

Some of those changes include giving grades based on student achievement, letting students turn in work at their own pace and allowing them to redo tests and assignments. They’re all things Dr. Addie Ellis with Natomas Charter School agrees with.

“A parent had emailed me asking for advice. His daughter was always a 4.0 student and now, she has C’s and D’s. We’ve been using the same grading system for over a hundred years,” Ellis explained.

“The policy brief that Superintendent Thurmond was referencing really looks at attempting to give teachers the latitude to use multiple measures to assess kids and really looking at the demonstration of knowledge versus compliance,” she continued.

And while there is no plan to move away from standard grading practices in the Elk Grove Unified School District, communications director Xanthi Soriano said there will be updates coming to improve their student performance and attendance.

“One of the things that we’re implementing that I think will be very helpful is this assessment program,” Soriano explained. “It’s an online assessment, meaning that it’s something we can develop district-wide similar assessments to be able to really gauge the comprehension of students for the content that’s being delivered.”

All three agree any changes being made within local school districts are for the benefit of students and their learning during and well after the pandemic.

“If anything, the pandemic has ripped open and forced us to confront the inequities that have been present for generations,” Thigpen said.

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