Grading Practices 2020-21
In guidance (PDF) provided to Washington school districts in June of 2020, State Superintendent Chris Reykdal offered this challenge regarding grading: “The pandemic is a call to action for our education system to reassess our grading practices. Now is the time for school leaders and educators to make grades meaningfully aligned to fewer specific standards, combined with feedback that gives students multiple opportunities to demonstrate learning and put homework and extra credit in its proper place. Now is the time to decouple behavior and compliance activities from assessing student learning.”
A team of educators was formed to determine 2020-21 grading policies and with the guidance provided by the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the district’s Equity and Accountability Policy (PDF) and with State Superintendent Reykdal’s challenge in mind, this team developed a comprehensive proposal based on evidence based- practices and prior district guidance (PDF) on assessment of student learning and grading.
During the 2020-21 school year, the Bellevue School District implemented four evidence-based best grading practices. The following are designed to result in grades that are more equitable and reflective of student learning:
- Classroom assessment is aligned to standards
- Students are provided with multiple opportunities to demonstrate learning
- Students can re-take and/or re-do summative assessments
- Late work used to assess student learning is fully recognized to demonstrate proficiency
Please continue to utilize ParentVUE to monitor student progress and check on assignment grades. Please communicate with teachers if you have concerns about your child’s progress.
Scroll down this page to learn about: The Grading Advisory Team, changes to grades in the 2020-21 school year, and frequently asked questions.
Grading Advisory Team
As part of a longer-term plan to improve grading practices, a Grading Advisory Team with representation from educators, administrator and families is meeting to develop a district-wide grading plan. The team is committed to working with educators, students, and families to explore grading practices with a lens of effectiveness and equity. The Team will gather input from relevant stakeholders, collect data on assessment and grading, review research on best practices to build shared understanding of what a better grading system will look like.
The long-term outcome is that all students will be supported by a high quality, equitable grading system that accurately reflects learning, is resistant to bias, is motivating for students, and is a more meaningful measure of student progress.
- Zack Daniels, Instructional Mentor
- Suzanne Reeves, ITCL at Odle Middle School and Sammamish High School
- Hava Rosenberg, Teacher at Bellevue High School
- Amy Stern, Teacher at Highland Middle School
- Abi Horsfall, Teacher at Chinook Middle School
- Susan Thomas, Principal at Highland Middle School
- James Peterson, Principal at Tillicum Middle School
- Jocelyn Alexander Shaw, Assistant Principal at Interlake High School
- Vic Anderson, Principal at Bellevue High School
- Melissa Lloyd, Parent
- Matt Roberts, Parent
- Melissa Richardson, Parent
- Caroline Titan, Equity Specialist
- Simone Hamilton, Equity Specialist
- John Harrison, Chief of Staff
- Naomi Calvo, Director of Research, Evaluation and Assessment
- Tom Duenwald , Director of Educational Technology
- Alexa Allman, Director of Human Relations
- Michele Miller, Recruitment and Retention, Leadership Development, and Facilitation Specialist
July 2021 Grading Advisory Team Update:
Between October and March, the GAT met regularly and has been guided by the essential question, “What does a high-quality equitable grading system that accurately reflects learning look like?” The team has developed a comprehensive list of options it is considering. Beginning in March, a smaller core team began meeting to determine the next phase of work including gathering stakeholder feedback, analyzing data, and reviewing research on best practices. The core team has begun the process to define “what a high-quality equitable grading system that accurately reflects learning looks like,” and has:
- Developed a data-informed understanding of the current state
- Developed a draft Rationale for Changing Grading Practices statement
- Created a draft Purpose of Grades statement
- Defined a draft Philosophy of Grading
- Gathered feedback from students and staff on the implementation of the four grading practices outlined in the August MoU.
The team has also defined next steps for continuing the work during the summer and into the 2021-22 school year which includes the development of:
- Professional learning opportunities for the four evidence-based practices implemented in 2020-21
- A stakeholder engagement plan to provide feedback on the Purpose of Grades and Philosophy of Grading
- Draft options/ recommendations for district-wide grading changes
- A plan to gather feedback from students, staff, and families on draft options/recommendation (by January 2022)
- An implementation plan to support district-wide grading changes (by January 2022)
Details can be found in the Grading Advisory Team Community Update.
Changes to Grades – 2020-21 School Year
As we approached the end of the first semester, the overwhelming theme we heard from families, students and staff was compassion for students and prioritization of social, emotional, and mental health. After much consideration of input from stakeholders, the Superintendent’s Executive Team made changes to first semester and second semester grades considering the prolonged remote learning context of teaching and learning this year. These changes were announced on January 12, 2021 (PDF) Additional information was provided by middle and high schools on January 27, 2021. Families and staff also received reminders of the changes prior to third quarter grades in April and second semester grades in June.
Summary of Changes
High School Credit-Bearing Courses
- Grading Scales: No required changes
- “F” Grades: All “F” grades will be converted to “NC” (no credit)
- “P” Grade Option: Students may opt for a “P” designation to replace a ”B” or “C” grade at the end of each semester. “D” grades will be automatically converted to a “P”
Middle School Courses (Non-credit-bearing)
- Grading Scales: No required changes
- “F” Grades: All “F” grades will be converted to “NE” (not sufficient evidence)
Elementary First Semester
- Grading Scale: No changes
- Teachers were able to leave blank on some standards with a note if they had insufficient evidence to score the standard
Elementary Second Semester
In accordance with the March 26, 2021 MOU, elementary teachers will use the simplified reporting model from 2019-20. At the end of second semester, any students who are deemed to be progressing towards success in the next course level will receive a letter grade “P” for “Progressing.” In the rare cases where a student has not demonstrated progress based on past performance and engagement with learning, students will be assigned a grade of “NP” for “Not Progressing.”
For third quarter, “F” grades for high school credited classes will be converted to “NC” and middle school course “F” grades will be converted to “NE”.
Additional communication was provided to staff on April 8, 2021 and to families on April 30, 2021.
Teachers have been strongly encouraged to use grading practices that provide the greatest amount of grace and support for students and extend as much flexibility as possible for students to improve their first semester grades. Examples include the four equitable grading practices implemented this year. Other examples include the elimination of the use of zeroes in grading or using the optional grading scales in Synergy.
2020-21 Grading Option Considerations FAQs
An overwhelming theme heard this year was compassion for students and prioritization of social, emotional, and mental health. After much consideration of input from stakeholders, the district has created enhanced use of grading options already outlined in BSD Procedure. The “P” or “Pass” option has generated many questions from educators, students, and their families. There is no right answer for all students and much of it depends on the student’s unique circumstance and goals in making the decision to use a “P” grade versus a letter grade. Below are some things to consider before making your decision.
“P” or “Pass” Grade Option: Students may opt for a “P” designation to replace a passing grade of “B” or “C.” All “D” grades will be converted to a “P” designation. With a “P” grade, students receive credit for the course, but the grade does not factor into their GPA.
“P” grades can be replaced if student retakes the course (grade and credit).
Questions to Consider:
1. Under what circumstances should a student consider a ‘P’ grade?
Students should think about how a grade will impact their overall GPA and GPA goals. Below are some points for consideration. Students planning on applying for colleges/universities, NCAA athletic scholarship, or academic scholarship should weigh the implications discussed in subsequent questions.
- If a student currently has and/or expects to have a GPA greater than a 3.0 upon graduation, consider converting grades of “B” and “C” that a student earns at the end of this semester to “P” grades.
- If a student currently has and/or expects to have a GPA greater than a 2.0 upon graduation, consider converting grades of “C” that a student earns at the end of this semester to “P” grades.
2. How could a “Pass’” or “P” grade on your transcript impact college admissions?
Colleges and universities have different rules when it comes to the use of ungraded credit. Students are encouraged to visit the admissions websites of colleges and universities of interest to find this information. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic rules may change or exceptions made. Since students are electing for the “P” grade any notation on the transcript will note the circumstances under which a “P” grade was authorized. As you read below some of the guidance from colleges/universities addresses school/districts that have gone to a Pass/Fail option only with no grades available. Below are some examples from college/universities often attended by BSD students:
University of Washington website: “In general, you must attain, at minimum, a passing grade (including D) to satisfy a CADR*. A grade of “pass” in a “pass/not pass” will also count. However, the UW recommends that CADR courses be completed with a letter or numerical grade.”
UW Admissions response to COVID– “If a school changes the grading scale to Pass/No Pass, Credit/No Credit or A/Incomplete, this will not impact a student’s admissibility to the University of Washington. The holistic review will be able to accommodate all of the various grading policies that school districts implement in a way that neither advantages nor disadvantages any applicant.”
Washington State University
- Admissions response to COVID- Provided by admissions counselor
“Changes in grading systems to Pass/No Pass (P/NP) or Credit/No Credit (C/NC) because of COVID-19 will not adversely affect students’ admission to WSU. This includes 8th-12th grade students taking high school coursework during this term. Students who complete high school coursework in spring or summer 2020 and receive a “pass” in lieu of a letter grade will not be negatively affected in the admission process at Washington State University. Additionally, WSU does not convert “Pass” or “Credit” grades into letter or numeric grades and does not recalculate them into a student’s cumulative GPA.”
University of California Schools
- Coalition Application schools- ‘Coalition Application Allows You to Explain Your COVID-19 Hardships’
- Common Application schools- COVID-19 Question on 2020-2021 Common App
*CADR courses are ‘College Academic Distribution Requirements’ or courses that are required for admission such as Math, Science, English, Social Studies, World Language, Fine Arts, etc. and are used at multiple Washington State universities.
3. What are possible impacts of a “Pass” or “P” grade for earning academic scholarships?
There is a wide variety of scholarships available for students. Some scholarships take GPA into account very strongly and others use a broad range of criteria. Students interested in applying for specific scholarships should carefully check eligibility criteria.
4. How could a “Pass” or “P” grade effect NCAA Athletic Scholarships/Eligibility?
Students who are interested in maintaining NCAA eligibility should be aware of the potential impact of a “P” grade on your ‘core-course’ GPA. The NCAA Eligibility Center calculates your GPA based on the grades you earn in NCAA-approved core courses.
The NCAA has adjusted eligibility due to Covid-19 impacts.
National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) College Admission Status Update is a central resource of information about changes in college admission because of the coronavirus outbreak.