Pass/incomplete grades, no final exams for Trumbull students
TRUMBULL —Binary grading systems, a final grade based on three academic quarters and no final exams are some of the factors unveiled Friday in a video presentation produced by the Trumbull schools.
Three school administrators, Asst. Supt. Jonathan Budd, Hillcrest Principal Bryan Rickert and Trumbull High Principal Marc Guarino laid out the changes to grading systems the schools have adopted in light of the distance learning imposed by the COVID-19 quarantine.
“In early April, (state Education Commissioner Miquel Cardona) asked districts to consider changes to most fairly reflect student performance,” Budd said.
Students and staff are facing many challenges with distance learning, including some families directly affected by the virus, and the differences in internet availability and the range of support students are receiving from adults.
The staff faces similar challenges, as some have seen family members get sick, others are juggling distance teaching with other family responsibilities, including having their own children grapple with distance learning, Budd said.
“Distance learning challenges our typical assessment routines,” he said.
After meeting with staff at the town’s schools, Budd said, the system adopted some core principles for grading changes. Above all, the changes should be equitable, should not disadvantage Trumbull students relative to students in other towns, should respect the efforts students are making under challenging conditions and should align the district with academic trends in the state and region.
At the elementary level, the district will adopt a single score for literacy, math and science.
“Each student will receive one score (in each area) indicating whether the student has met standards, or is approaching standard,” Budd said. Students also will receive detailed comments from teachers about their work in literacy, math and science.
At the middle school level, Rickert said the traditional A, B, C, D, F letter grades do not reflect the values the system has come up with to support students during coronavirus-enforced distance learning. Therefore, he said, the middle schools will adopt a binary grading system. Students will either pass or “not pass” their classes.
“We are conscious of the fact that every family is in a difficult situation,” he said. “We want to make sure not to punish students for factors that are outside of their control.”
The goal, Rickert said, was to assess student performance without causing undue stress over whether they receive an A or a B, or a B or a C, he said.
“We really feel a binary system will take into account that we don’t want kids stressing over grades,” he said.
At the high school level, students will continue to receive the traditional letter grades, but will also have the option of having taking a simple Pass/Incomplete assessment, according to Guarino.
“What we are experiencing today does not come close to what takes place in the classroom,” Guarino said.
The pass/incomplete option, which is only available for the fourth marking period, will not factor into the student’s final year-end grade, Guarino said. But it would allow teachers to look deeper into a student’s individual situation, he said..
“It allows a student to best reflect the situation at home,” he said. “We want to make sure we understand why a student was not able to pass.”
Students who do not opt to take a pass/incomplete grade will receive their traditional letter grade. Students will have until June 1 to make their decision, and they can make their decisions on a course-by-course basis.
Regardless of which options they choose for their grading system, one end-of-year tradition will not happen.
“All students, all courses, with the exception of some dual enrollment courses, there will be no final exams this year,” he said.
Students will receive information on how to declare their grading choices over the next few weeks, Guarino said. Until then, he urged all students and staff to try to look forward to the day when they can return to school.
“Stay positive, we’ll be back,” he said.