SBHS nixes letter grades for spring semester

New grading system in place for distance learning

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By Juan Reyes

San Benito High School District announced that it will temporarily move to a new grading system for the remainder of the spring semester.

Students will now end each class with a Pass, Pass with Distinction or Incomplete mark. 

Elaine Klauer, educational Services Director at San Benito High School said in a newsletter that the temporary grading system represents a new approach to student evaluation but it provides the best solution for immediate school closure needs. 

“There are many students and families who are struggling to maintain a routine with our new normal,” Klauer said.

The temporary grading system was implemented after California Department of Education and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced public schools were moving to distance learning.

The sixth and final grading period of the school year at San Benito High begins Monday. 

Students will accumulate credits toward graduation without negatively or positively affecting their grade point average.

Several colleges and universities, including the entire University of California and California State University systems, determined that students will not be penalized for Incomplete/Pass marks on school transcripts. 

“During this uncertain time, we are following the lead of many colleges, universities and high school districts,” Klauer said. 

Principal Adrian Ramirez said it’s important to maintain consistent and thorough communication to all of the stakeholders, especially students and parents.

“We anticipate that our families will have further questions and a potential need for clarifying specific details of the grading system,” Ramirez said. “Our Student Services Staff is prepared and looking forward to supporting our community with the transition.” 

Starting April 13, all student work will be documented by teachers under a “Distance Learning” category.

According to school staff, the grades from the fifth grading period will be the baseline to determine final semester grades. 

Teachers will use the grading period and a body of evidence compiled by work completed during distance learning to determine Incomplete/Pass/Pass with Distinction. 

Students who currently have an “A” or “B” grade are eligible to Pass with Distinction.

Advanced Placement students who take the exam and pass with a three or higher are also eligible to Pass with Distinction.

Students who currently have an “F” in a class might receive an incomplete, which means they will not receive credit for the class.

The Multi-Tiered System of Supports team will develop a support system to connect with students at risk of receiving a grade of incomplete.

Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum, superintendent at San Benito High School District, said providing opportunities and access to students is at the forefront of planning and decision-making. 

“Given the circumstances school districts, universities and colleges are facing nationwide due to COVID-19, we are seeing a monumental shift away from traditional grading practices to a focus on equity and access in terms of assessing student work during these trying times,” he said.

John Corrigan, president of the San Benito High School District Board of Trustees, added that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented them with a set of challenges that nobody could have foreseen. 

“As we continue to navigate these unprecedented times, we all need to remain focused on treating each other with respect, compassion and kindness,” Corrigan said. “Together, we will overcome these challenges and become a more united, stronger community.”

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