High school students will still have to earn 24 credits, but the state will waive the essential skills and personalized learning requirements for the class of 2021. Grades 9-11 will receive pass or incomplete grades based on their work up to March 13 and progress made during distance learning – if they can be reached.
“This is a thoughtful, statewide approach that keeps our high school students on track to graduate,” said OSBA Executive Director Jim Green. “It mirrors what many colleges and districts around the country are doing, and we appreciate how ODE has reached out to partners and communities of color to ensure that students are treated equitably.”
Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction Colt Gill vetted the guidance through a group of education stakeholders, including OSBA.
“This guidance provides a framework for a common approach but does not resolve the deeper inequities or fully address the complexity of challenges presented by the extended school closures,” Gill said in an email to superintendents and principals. “We must collaborate on solutions and strategies – now and in the years to come – in order to support our students’ long-term success and well-being.”
ODE’s guidance again reminds schools to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education as well as paying attention to equity, access and language considerations. ODE urges education leaders to recognize COVID-19’s impact on students and offer multiple, flexible credit options.
Green encouraged school districts to work with community-based organizations to support students from communities of color and with disabilities.
Gov. Kate Brown first announced a school closure March 12. Five days later she extended the closure with executive order 20-08, which directed ODE to “provide further guidance” during the closure that now extends through the end of the academic year.
Since the first closure announcement, school leaders have been looking to ODE to lay down the rules for how students will finish out the year. First, ODE unveiled Distance Learning for All and then it released urgently sought guidance for seniors.
Seniors will receive a pass/incomplete grade for all work completed as of March 13, effectively graduating most seniors.
The grades 9-11 guidance is more nuanced.
Students will receive pass or incomplete credit depending on a combination of their work as of March 13 and their work during the distance learning period if the district was able to contact the student. A pass/incomplete grade will not affect a student’s GPA, and students cannot be penalized or held back based on performance during the school closure, according to the guidance.
Schools must develop a recovery plan with students and families by September for students who received an incomplete.
Districts are still figuring out the contours of what this year will look like.
The Tillamook School District has recognized that six periods a day online might be too much for high school students dealing with coronavirus impacts, said Tillamook School District administrator Jennifer Guarcello before the grades 9-11 guidance was released.
For high school students, Tillamook has divided the end of the year into two four-week periods of three classes in each.
“We are very concerned about our kids’ emotional well-being in all this and the capacity of our families,” she said. “We felt like this was a balance. It’s certainly not optimum.”
School leaders know this year’s students are receiving truncated classes and the hope is that next year’s teachers can take that into consideration, Guarcello said.
“A lot of our conversations lately, is this the right thing?” she said. “We want to make it right by our kids.”
Making students feel cared for and connected should be educators’ most important concern, Corvallis School Board Chair Sami Al-AbdRabbuh said Tuesday.
“The grading system follows those priorities and those values,” he said. “It’s not the other way around.”