Altered Grading System Announced for NYC Students

NEW YORK (AP) -
new york schools coronavirus
A worker sweeps the sidewalk outside a storefront shuttered due to continuing social distancing restrictions, Monday in Brooklyn. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

New York City schools will implement a new grading system for the remainder of the coronavirus-disrupted school year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

Elementary school students will be graded “meeting the standards” or “needing improvement,” while high school students will have a pass-fail grading option, de Blasio said.

Acknowledging that some students have made a relatively smooth transition to online learning since schools were shuttered last month while others have struggled, de Blasio said students who need help to catch up will be given academic support through the summer and into next fall.

“We have to recognize that some kids are having a tougher time because of this crisis, emotionally and academically,” de Blasio said. ”Here’s the bottom line: Every student is going to be able to get the help they need.”

Students in grades K-5 will be graded “meets standards” or “needing improvement,” de Blasio said, while middle school students will be graded “meets standards,” “needs improvement” or “course in progress.”

High schools will use traditional letter grades, but a student who receives a passing grade in a class can take a “pass” grade that won’t affect their grade point average, de Blasio said. High school students who haven’t mastered the coursework will get a “course in progress” grade.

New York City school buildings have been closed since March 16. De Blasio announced on April 11 that the schools would remain shuttered through the rest of the school year but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the decision whether to reopen schools was up to him. Cuomo has not indicated that he wants schools in the city to reopen before the end of the academic year in late June.

De Blasio initially resisted closing school buildings and moving instruction online in part because many of the system’s 1.1 million students lacked internet access. He said that 247,000 iPads will be in hands of students who requested them by Thursday.

Educators around the nation have struggled with how to grade students after the coronavirus pandemic closed schools.

Officials in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest after New York City, announced earlier this month that no student would get an F and no one’s grade would be worse than what it was on March 13, the last day of on-campus classes.

Philadelphia schools superintendent William Hite said last week that district officials were looking for a way to give students credit for completing schoolwork without penalizing children for things that are beyond their control. “These are the things that we’re still working out,” he said.