CIP Hold Harmless Grading Policy for 3rd Trimester

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Captain Isaac Paine Elementary School
Virtual Learning Hold Harmless Grading Policy for Trimester 3
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Dear Parents and Guardians:

With the Governor’s decision to close schools through the end of the year and continue with virtual/remote learning, we are making some adjustments to our grading policies and procedures. In response to the educational and societal changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, for the last trimester of the 2019-2020 school year we are adding a Hold Harmless provision to our grading system for all classes at Captain Isaac Paine Elementary School. Under this system, a student’s performance can increase in the last trimester, but it cannot decrease provided the student is making a good faith effort to complete his/her assignments. This system is designed to encourage the continued pursuit of academic excellence, while minimizing any negative impact that the shift to virtual/remote learning and the ongoing pandemic may have on student performance.

The Hold Harmless provision is being implemented in response to the educational and societal changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. We recognize that many families are struggling to balance professional responsibilities and family responsibilities while concurrently supporting the virtual/remote learning of their children. We also know that many of our students are conscientiously continuing with their academic learning while experiencing stress and loss in their own personal lives. In some families one or more parent may have lost a job or business. Some students are helping to care for their siblings. Other students have limited access to the Internet. In some families a friend or relative is sick. In short, at-home learning experiences vary greatly among our students and we want to minimize any worry about managing their educational responsibilities along with everything else we know they and their families are handling.

Traditional 1 – 5 Grading System With A Hold Harmless Provision
(This is the default option and no action is required)

The existing rating scale of 1-5 system will still be in effect for all classes at Captain Isaac Paine Elementary School during the 3rd trimester. Teachers will still grade assignments and convert that grade to an 1 – 5 on the report card for the 3rd trimester grade.

Hold Harmless Provision Description:
We are augmenting the existing 1-5 grading system with a Hold Harmless provision. In the 3rd trimester a student can earn higher grades than his/her previous grades, but cannot earn lower grades provided the student is making a good faith effort to complete his/her assignments. The number grade a student receives will not reduce his/her overall academic performance from how he/she performed in the previous trimesters. To encourage a continued focus on high performance, if a student earns an overall 3rd trimester numeric grade that is higher than the average of the previous two (2) trimesters the student will receive the higher 3rd trimester grade. To minimize any potential negative impact of COVID-19 on performance, if a student earns an overall 3rd trimester numeric grade that is lower than the average of the previous two (2) trimesters the student will not receive the lower grade. In this scenario, the student will receive the average of the previous two (2) trimesters, which is a higher grade, for his/her 3rd trimester grade.


Examples of the Hold Harmless Provision Applied to Classes at Captain Isaac Paine

Full Year Class Example 1 – a higher 3rd Trimester Grade:
The grades for the 1st trimester = 3 and the 2nd trimester = 3. This averages out to a 3.
If the grade a student receives in the 3rd trimester = 4 then the higher grade of 4 will be used for the 3rd trimester grade.
This will result in a report card that shows the 3rd trimester grade as 4.

Full Year Example 2 – a lower 3rd Trimester Grade:
The grades for the 1st trimester = 2 and the 2nd trimester = 3. This averages out to a 2.5.
If the grade the student receives in the 3rd trimester = 2 in the 3rd trimester then the higher grade of 3 will be used for the 3rd trimester (2.5 rounded up to the next whole number).
This will result in a report card that shows the 3rd trimester grade as 3.


Effective Dates for Traditional Grading with a Hold Harmless Provision:
The Hold Harmless grading provisions are retroactive to the beginning of the 3rd trimester (March 13, 2020) and will be in effect for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year barring any new directive or requirement issued by an overseeing State or Federal agency.

Grading of Standards Newly Introduced or Not Assessed in the 3rd Trimester:
Several grade level standards were introduced for the first time during the 3rd trimester. These newly newly introduced standards will not be summatively assessed for inclusion on the report card. For these newly introduced standards students “NG” will be recorded on the report card for Not Graded. Similarly, if a standard did not apply to the 3rd Trimester, or if the standard could not be assessed, “N/A” will be recorded on the report card for Not Applicable.

Closing Thoughts:
Many colleges and universities have adopted satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading policies. This includes Harvard, Dartmouth, Stanford, University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and others throughout the country. When announcing the shift to an Emergency Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory grading system Harvard Dean Claudine Gay stated: “We of course remain committed to academic continuity, but we cannot proceed as if nothing has changed. Everything has changed.”

Our district decided to move forward with a Hold Harmless provision because it affords students who may have declining performance the same mathematical protection as a pass/fail system would. The Hold Harmless system had the added benefit of recognizing higher performance for students whose performance may have increased as the year progressed. Teachers will continue to use the Google Classroom as a Learning Management System to house assignments and to grade the work that students submit.

Thank you for your continued support and partnership as we all navigate the nuances of virtual / remote learning.

Sincerely,

Michael S. Barnes, Ph. D.
Superintendent of Foster School District

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