Grading Practices 2020-21
In guidance (PDF) provided to Washington school districts in June, 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 is implementing four new grading practices for students. 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.
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 with a timeline of May 2021. 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 and Sammamish
- Hava Rosenberg, Teacher at Bellevue
- Amy Stern, Teacher at Highland
- Abi Horsfall, Teacher at Chinook
- Susan Thomas, Principal at Highland
- James Peterson, Principal at Tillicum
- Jocelyn Alexander Shaw, Assistant Principal at Interlake
- Vic Anderson, Principal at Bellevue High
- Melissa Lloyd, Parent
- Matt Roberts, Parent
- Melissa Richardson, Parent
- Caroline Titan and Simone Hamilton, Equity Specialists
- John Harrison, Interim 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
Changes to First Semester Grades
Thank you to the many educators, parents, and students who reached out with questions and feedback on modifications to grading procedures and practices in the Bellevue School District to mitigate the impact of remote learning on grades. From all constituents, the overwhelming theme we heard 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 grades in light of 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.
Summary of Changes
High School Credit-Bearing Courses
- Grading Scales: No required changes
- “F” Grades: All “F” grades will be replaced with “NC” (no credit)
- “P” Grade Option: Students may opt for a “P” designation to replace any passing grade (A-D)
Middle School Courses (Non-credit-bearing)
- Grading Scales: No required changes
- “F” Grades: All “F” grades will be replaced with “NE” (not sufficient evidence)
- Grading Scale: No changes
- “NE” Designation: Elementary educators may indicate “NE” if insufficient evidence is available to assign a score for any standard.
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 FAQ
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’, ‘C’ or ‘D’. 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).
ALL students are strongly encouraged to meet the February 8 deadline to request ‘P’ or ‘Pass’ grades. Seniors MUST meet this deadline for an accurate midyear report to be sent to colleges. Only requests for ‘P’ or ‘Pass’ grades received by the February 8 deadline will be reflected on the Semester 1 grade report. Requests received after February 8 will be processed as time allows. The ‘P’ or ‘Pass’ grade will be updated on the student transcript only. The Semester 1 grade report will not be updated.
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 C and D (and possibly B grades) 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 and/or D that a student earns at the end of this semester to ‘P’ grades.
- If a student currently has a GPA equal to or lower than a 2.0, consider converting D grades 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 in order 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) as a result 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 made adjustments to 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 as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.