Grades K-8 guidance sets pass/incomplete standard for all grades
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
New Oregon Department of Education rules for grades K-8 follow the same basic outlines offered by previous guidances for high school classes.
The Distance Learning for All addition released Wednesday, “Section Six: Supporting our Students in Grades K-8,” continues the requirement that students be graded on a pass/incomplete basis or a local equivalent. Schools must still create a report card for every student.
“This guidance for grades K-8 is consistent with how schools are addressing the need for equitable treatment for our high schoolers,” said OSBA Executive Director Jim Green. “We appreciate how ODE is keeping equity at the forefront as we work through this health crisis.”
Some parents and high school students have requested letter grades for students. ODE has attempted to create an equitable grading situation for all students, some of whom don’t have the resources or family situations to fully access their education.
The ODE guidance emphasizes students’ mental and social well-being, equity efforts and family engagement.
“Given that the instructional environment for each student is so variable in this new context, it is important for educators to remain flexible, allow for multiple modes of student engagement and response, and acknowledge all student effort,” the guidance says.
Tina Acker, Centennial School District’s curriculum director, said before the release that some teachers had said they didn’t want to give letter grades because they know students aren’t receiving full instruction.
Centennial does not offer letter grades for K-6, instead giving evaluations of progress. The ODE guidance says middle school students taking high school-level classes should be assessed based on its grades 9-11 guidance.
Centennial is trying to focus on the essential skills in each class as they finish out the year, Acker said.
Section 6E of the guidance includes promising practices for K-8 students during distance learning. Schools should be focusing on interdisciplinary skills and essential learning for the next year that is within reach of the students’ current knowledge and skills. At the same time, ODE encourages schools to provide access to specials such as music and physical education.
ODE’s guidances say students cannot be held back or penalized based on their performance during distance learning.
Typically, Centennial students are not held back if they aren’t meeting grade level expectations, Acker said, and that remains true. Teachers will be working with students to develop plans for them to catch up if they are graded as incomplete.
Centennial is also looking at offering supplemental practice and academic resources for all students over the summer, Acker said.