The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed a school district in Virginia outside of Washington to ensure students move through the system by lowering academic standards more than ever seen. Alexandria City Public Schools are now discounting poor grades on final exams and waiving requirements that homework assignments be completed on time.
Principal of Alexandria City High School Peter Balas sent an email to parents last week describing the adjusted grading policies adopted by the school board in November designed to “mitigate the impact of the pandemic.”
The policies essentially remove any need for students to make any effort on final exams or complete homework. A student’s final exam grade in a course will only count if it does not lower their final grade. Further, the lowest grade allowed for a final exam is 50 percent.
Missing assignments will be given a minimum grace period of one week with no penalty. Students with verified absences or quarantine time can turn in late charges for full credit up until two weeks from the end of the grading period. Students without verified absences will still be allowed 80 percent credit.
If a student receives a grade of D or F on any assessment, they will be granted an automatic opportunity to reassess the grade with a maximum revised grade of 80 percent.
The policies enacted during the pandemic have indeed had negative impacts on students. Many parents have expressed great concern about their children falling behind because of disruptions in standard procedures and the threat of additional reductions in sessions on campus because of “teacher burnout.”
Alexandria school board members issued a release stating that the board made the changes to “address learning loss” resulting from school closures during the last school year and the “ongoing impact” of the pandemic. The board said that it believes the changes “ensure maximum flexibility” for students who need “opportunities for mastery of content standards.”