EAST GREENWICH – On Tuesday, the East Greenwich School Committee unanimously endorsed changes to the grading practices for students as they are distance learning, giving high schoolers the option for a pass/fail grade for quarter four, among other changes

Discussions around changes to the grading practices stemmed from a recommendation from the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE), which asked districts to consider implementing “standards-based grading practices.”

“Across the state of Rhode Island, most elementary settings already engage in standards-based grading practices and formative assessment; these practices are well-established and are now even more crucial in order to serve communities well during distance learning,” RIDE said in a memo to school districts. “However, for those communities that do not yet do so, RIDE encourages districts and schools to move toward such practices, for the benefit of both educators and students.” 

“RIDE strongly encourages all districts and schools to consider moving toward employing a pass/no pass, complete/incomplete, or credit/no credit options—at least for the time being, to ensure greater equity,” the department continued. “Making a uniform decision in this regard will remove questions of uncertainty, inequity, and access from the realm of concern.”

Incoming superintendent Alexis Meyer said that the proposed changes in the East Greenwich grading policy were developed at each school level with leadership teams and department chairs.  

“This is a proposed grading change that we’re putting forth to the school committee today for your endorsement, as we have an existing policy in place,” Meyer said. “This proposal that is before you was developed at each of the school levels, especially at the high school and middle schools, with their leadership teams and department chairs.”

The new social distance grading policy would give high schoolers the choice between a pass/fail option or a traditional grade for quarter four, factoring in potential hardships faced by some students and the aspirations of others.  

“We spent at least two weeks grappling with the issue and how to best provide feedback to students about their learning, and ensure there aren’t any barriers to what we typically do, but also for any aspirations that kids may have, we wanted to make sure that nothing would prohibit or get in the way of that,” Meyer said. 

“We also needed to be cognizant that what we are doing now in a distance learning format isn’t the same as a setting in a classroom for all kids,” she continued. “And that was part of what has driven some of our thinking.”

Students would have to reach out to their teachers to choose the pass/fail option, Meyer said. 

“The high school has determined that they intend to go forward with the traditional grading practice that they have done, however, giving an option for students to opt out, should they wish to do that,” she continued. 

Middle schoolers would automatically receive a pass/fail grade for quarter four of this year, however they would still receive specific grades on assignments. 

“Quarter four grades will be graded as they’re always done, but everyone will be given a pass-fail grade in the end, as a means to be able to address any equity issues they may have or differences in individual homes or challenges that families are navigating,” Meyer said.  

The elementary schools, on the other hand, would be going forward with a “meet” or “not meet” grading system, which is based on existing standards already in place. Scoring will be based upon evidence of participation, feedback, engagement, attendance, communication, and the completion of the majority of the assigned activities during distance learning.

The school committee unanimously endorsed the changes to the grading practices while students are social distancing . 

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