Dear Students and Families,
Over the weekend, we heard that this past Friday’s email left some of you with lingering questions regarding grading, video-conferencing, social-emotional support, and critical events. I hope that this correspondence will clear up many of the questions and alleviate concerns.
Rationale for letter grades
Our announcement on Friday that we have decided to use the state-supported option of giving letter grades for second semester was obviously a change from our initial plan earlier last week. Some parents have expressed a preference for using a pass/incomplete model, and there are admittedly several strong arguments for that approach.
However, our overarching consideration is that we minimize the harm our students may experience as a result of their semester being disrupted. As a result, we believe keeping letter grades in place is important precisely because we can do so without hurting our students’ academic standing by the end of the term.
Reporting letter grades allows us to fully recognize the hard work our students put in through the third quarter while also maintaining consistent transcript records for grades, GPAs, and honors designations. Keeping such records consistent avoids wading into the uncertain effect that a pass/incomplete model would have on students’ post-secondary aspirations, whether that be applying to colleges or technical schools, certifying National College Athletic Association (NCAA) eligibility, or pursuing scholarships.
Specifics on grading
- Quarter 3 grades were finalized and posted in Gradebook on Friday, April 3.
- Work done during Remote Learning Days counts and will be graded.
- A student’s final overall letter grade at the end of second semester cannot be lower than the letter grade they received for third quarter.
- Throughout the fourth quarter, grades will be given and posted in Gradebook, regardless of their effect on raising or lowering the overall semester grade. This is being done in order to accurately track the level of a student’s engagement.
- If at the end of the term, the overall semester grade is lower than what was posted for third quarter, it will be changed to the grade as it was at the end of third quarter, unless an incomplete is appropriate.
- Any student who continually fails to engage in learning and perform at a passing level during fourth quarter may earn an incomplete for the semester, rather than a letter grade.
We’ve received questions about why we aren’t mandating that teachers do full-class video-conferencing to engage students and maintain a sense of connection. First, we want to stress that we are supporting video-conferencing via Google Hangouts Meet, and we know that several teachers have opted to go this route. However, aside from the security issues--which is why we are not supporting Zoom as an option--there are a host of concerns that make it infeasible to require for all of our classes, including the following.
- A third of OPRF students who responded to our e-learning survey report having other obligations between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., such as caring for younger siblings while their parents work.
- Not all students have access to high-quality wifi. Even those that do may experience connectivity issues with multiple parents and/or siblings at home also trying to get online.
- Students may not have a quiet or private space to join an online class.
Our teachers may also be dealing with the challenges listed above, in addition to converting virtually overnight to an e-learning format for the multiple different courses they need to prep every day. I am really proud of our teachers and the work they are doing under extremely difficult circumstances. Please know that we all are trying to do our very best by our students in this new environment.
Social emotional support
I want to stress again that we are here to support the social-emotional needs of students much as possible during this time. However, in our student survey on e-learning, 82% of respondents said they have not been availing themselves of any supports. Please know that the following are available:
- Our website Covid-19 Info Center (scroll to the bottom right side for tip sheets) for resources parents/guardians and students can use.
- Check-ins with OPRF social workers. Our social workers are available Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. to chat, email, and video-conference. If a student receives social work/counseling services through an IEP, their assigned social worker or psychologist will continue to be their primary support person, and you should contact that person. For students not who do not receive services through an IEP, click here to see which individual social worker is assigned to you.
- Check-ins with our prevention and wellness coordinator. Ms. Colamussi (firstname.lastname@example.org) can help navigate the challenges of dealing with vaping and substance use, which can be even more pressing now.
- Honors Convocation: This event will be postponed from its original date of April 28. We are looking at different possibilities for recognizing our students, including a virtual convocation, and will share details once we have them.
- Prom: The Hyatt has cancelled our contract, and we will not hold prom on Saturday, May 16. We know that this is hugely disappointing for our seniors in particular, and we are working on plans to create a prom-like celebration. Please stay tuned for details.
- Graduation: There may be a lot of uncertainty about what the next few weeks have in store, but we absolutely will find a way to honor and celebrate the class of 2020. We are having internal discussions about various alternatives that we could implement and will share more information when available.
We hope that this answers your questions. Thank you again for your support and your patience as we work through these various issues.
Take care and be well,
Dr. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams