The district said the policy was adopted in recognition of the struggles students have faced during the coronavirus pandemic. Chief Academic Officer Joan Dabrowski said it’s meant to “avoid the punitive approach of failing students,” according to comments during Tuesday’s board meeting.
“This is not about a failure, but it is about unfinished learning and giving multiple opportunities, multiple onramps for young people to complete that … learning,” BCPS CEO Sonja Santelises said.
For high school students, a failing grade will be replaced with “No Credit,” and for students in second through eighth grades, an “Unsatisfactory” or “Fail” will be replaced with “Not Completed.”
Students who receive these “incomplete” grades will still be able to continue on to the next grade level.
“In all of these instances, we want to emphasize the word ‘yet’. Not completed yet, no credit yet,” said Dabrowski.
Sixty-three percent of middle and high school students are failing at least one class according to BCPS — that’s nearly 25,000 students out of the nearly 40,000 sixth through twelfth graders in the district.
Even more worrying, 51% of students in grades 2-5 and 37% of Kindergarten and first-graders failed at least one course during this school year.
At the start of the school year, BCPS struggled with virtual class attendance, Santelises said in an interview with WYPR Baltimore Public Radio.
“We know that our first week daily average of logins — in terms of, you know, students logging in daily, meaning no interruption or anything like that — is at 65%,” Santelises told host WYPR Sheliah Kast.
BCPS implemented a phased-in reopening on March 1 for students whose families chose hybrid learning, as well as for all their employees.
Their hybrid learning includes two in-person learning days and three virtual learning days per week, but families also have the option to continue full virtual learning at home, according to a release from BCPS.
“We have heard loud and clear that some families are ready for in-person learning,” BCPS Superintendent Dr. Darryl L. Williams said. “While school operations will look different as we implement the CDC’s recommended practices for health and safety, I look forward to greeting students and staff as they return.”
The district has a total of more than 77,000 students, according to its website.