Any Baltimore student who failed classes this school year will still be able to pass onto the next year regardless, the school board for the city has announced.
The announcement was made by Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises during a virtual meeting of the city’s school board on Tuesday. “As we approach the end of the 2020-2021 school year, we all recognize that students have experienced incredibly significant challenges and interruptions in their learning,” Santelises said, saying that the district has developed “a fair and straightforward process for evaluating and reporting students’ progress in the current school year.”
Santelises noted that work groups comprised of teachers, students, and others had been looking at their “existing assessment and grading practices and regulations through the lens of the unique circumstances that black people have faced.” Santelises did not confirm exactly what those “unique” circumstances were, or why black people were seemingly more affected by the pandemic than every other ethnic group.
Joan Dabrowski, the Baltimore City Schools Chief Academic Officer, said that the board was looking to avoid “the punitive approach to failing students and the default reaction to unfairly retain students,” and that instead they will be showing “a commitment and a belief in our students as we plan for a multi-year academic recovery. We will work with them as we recognize that there is unfinished learning and there are credits that have been unearned, and we want to support all of those students as we work to recognize the space they’ve been in.” (VIDEO: School Board Member Arguing For Mandatory Masks Nearly Passes Out While Wearing Mask)
The plan would see various changes regarding the grading system throughout the school ages. Children in Grades 2 through 5 will have the U grade, which stands for “Unsatisfactory” to an NC grade instead, which stands for “Not Completed.” In Grades 6 through 8, the classic F for “Fail” grade will also be replaced with “Not Completed.” Grades 9 through 12 will also replace F with NC, although in their case, the NC will stand for “No Credit.” No changes will be made to the grades of younger children.
“In all of these instances we want to emphasize the word ‘yet’,” Dabrowski said, adding that students would hopefully be brought back over the summer or in the fall for in-person learning in order to complete their failed classes. At the present time, any student who received an NC grade would be allowed to continue to their next grade level.
“Clear strategies” and support systems for those students would be set up to help them complete their classes, but there was no indication that there would be any negative repercussions for those students who never went onto complete the classes that they failed if they did not finish them during the summer or the fall. (READ MORE: Teacher Placed on Leave After Bullying Student for Not Wearing Mask During Lunch)
A Department of Education report from April claimed that around “3 million students have either been absent from or have not been actively participating in remote learning since the beginning of the pandemic,” and that these students were more likely to be “English learners, students with disabilities, students in foster care, students experiencing homelessness, students from low-income backgrounds, Native American youth, and migratory students.”
Multiple cases of teachers misbehaving themselves while participating in virtual learning sessions have hit the news during the coronavirus pandemic. National File reported in February that Marc Schack, a Maryland teacher, was given “administrative leave” after he was caught masturbating on a Zoom call with disabled and special education students still watching, while earlier this month, Amanda Fletcher, a 37-year-old Spanish teacher for a prestigious New York school was suspended after she “appeared to suck the nipple of an unidentified topless male” as she “rocked her head back and forth” on a Zoom call last year.