State Board of Ed approves pass/fail for High schoolers, other grading measures

NC Dept. of Public Instruction building
NC Dept. of Public Instruction building

RALEIGH — On March 27, the N.C. State Board of Education (SBE) approved a recommendation by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to move to a pass/fail system for high school seniors.

This change will impact roughly 100,000 high school seniors in the state.

“Grading practices for transcript purposes will hold students harmless for the impact of COVID-19,” reads the recommendations proposed by Dr. David Stegall, Deputy Superintendent of Innovation, and Sneha Shah-Coltrane, DPI director of advanced learning and gifted education.

In executive order 117, Governor Roy Cooper ordered all public schools in the state to close from March 16 to March 30, but school closures were extended to May 15 by executive order 120.

“We don’t want our seniors to feel an undue burden. We want them to graduate on time,” said Coltrane.

Seniors who were deemed to be passing classes in the days leading up to the closure of schools statewide will not receive the typical letter grade for those classes but instead will have a note on their transcript of either passing or failing.

Students will receive grades for fall courses as already stored, year-long and semester. Fall grades will count toward GPA.

Students will receive a Pass “PC19” or Withdrawal “WC19” based on their learning as of March 13 for spring courses.

Any seniors that have an “F” and received a withdrawal code for that class, but that doesn’t mean the student will keep that failing grade. Districts have been instructed to give those seniors a chance to pass by through remote learning options that culminate with a test based on material taught up to the point schools were closed.  Criteria for improving a failing grade includes:

  • participate in remote learning through the enrolled local school or charter;
  • enroll in NC Virtual Public School for all courses applicable;
  • participate in credit recovery aligned to instructional topics covered through March 13; or
  • pass a final locally-developed assessment aligned to instructional topics covered through March 13. A final assessment can be in a variety of formats, including but not limited to a portfolio, interview, teacher-made test, project, and/or some other performance-based measure.

The state board approved a temporary suspension that allowed school districts to require more than the 22 credit minimum state requirement for graduation.

For grades K-11, schools are only to give a grade to students if the following five remote learning requirements are met:

  • Maintains consistent communication between instructional staff and students
  • Addresses the curricular and instructional needs associated with appropriate standards
  • Includes evidence of student learning
  • Considers the whole child as well as the home learning environment.
  • Materials and lessons need to be accessible by all students for which the learning is intended and is responsive to diverse learning groups.

According to DPI, remote learning is “Any type of learning that takes place outside of the traditional school setting.”

“The goal for K-5 is to focus on progress rather than assigning a grade,” said Coltrane, who later elaborated that grades could be given if “critical remote learning factors are met.”

Coltrane said it would be up to the district or charter school to make that determination and she emphasized that intent of the state’s recommendation should be a focus on feedback and progress rather than on grades.

DPI has indicated that additional guidance would be issued to schools about issuing grades to K-11 students if schools remain closed past the May 15 deadline.

About A.P. Dillon 279 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_