Students will receive “no credit” instead of Fs next grading period
A new grading policy will be implemented in the Santa Barbara Unified School District Jan. 19 replacing Fs with “no credit.” The board unanimously approved the policy during its meeting Tuesday night.
The policy was proposed by administrators after seeing higher rates of Ds and Fs during the pandemic, especially among traditionally underserved groups. The original proposal replaced Ds with “incomplete” marks but was amended to permit Ds.
In elementary schools, parents will be contacted earlier when students receive grades below proficient, and staff will help the students reach that level.
“We want to acknowledge that many teachers have wrestled with ensuring that grading practices are equitable, and in particular, that they are responsive to student needs during these challenging distance learning conditions brought on by the pandemic,” Ana Escobedo, assistant superintendent of elementary education, said in the district’s presentation to the board.
District administration acknowledged that the policy would not fix the heart of the issue but would at least release pressure from students.
“When we see low grades, we should study them as a symptom of what the underlying barriers and challenges are,” Shawn Carey, assistant superintendent of secondary education, said.
“I want to reiterate that grades are both high stakes and at the same time, just one measure of student learning, growth and well being are non instructional components that are critical to making learning possible,” she said.
Board members agreed and expressed a desire for a long-term plan in the future. Board member Virginia Alvarez wanted to see a study group of teachers and other stakeholders troubleshoot grading policies to create a progressive strategy.
“I want to make sure that we locate resources for staff development, give the teacher the tools, the resources that they need to carry this important work,” she said.
Karen McBride, Santa Barbara Teachers Association president, commented about potential long-term problems.
“So if you’re talking about changes that require staff training, please make sure to fund it and schedule it,” she said. “And when talking about future social justice, I urge that these should not be tied to site budgets in a manner that creates inequities across the district because we all know that different school sites see different things going on.”
Parents and students called in supporting the new policy.
“This new grading policy passes; it’ll be a huge help to many students. School has never been easy. With distance learning, teachers just keep piling up an overwhelming amount of work to complete in such a short time period,” Angela Ortega, a sophomore at San Marcos High School, said.
The student commenters felt overwhelmed at the amount of homework, especially when compounded upon household duties.
“I know that many people including myself are stressed about our grades and especially in these hard times. Many students don’t have it as easy as others; they have more responsibilities as well as having problems in school with the pandemic stress,” said Ivan Esparza, a junior at San Marcos.