New York City students won’t receive ‘F’ letter grades under new city grading policy

FILE PHOTO: A hallway stands empty during a news conference at an elementary school, ahead of schools reopening, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in New York, U.S., August 19, 2020.
(Jeenah Moon/Pool via REUTERS)

By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

New York City public school students struggling to complete classwork will not get failing grades during the 2020-21 school year, officials announced earlier this week.

Instead, failing K-5 grade students will receive a grade of  “needs improvement” (N) just like they have throughout the pandemic. Under the new guidelines, parents and guardians can choose to have their child’s passing letter grade changed to a “meets standards” grade. Elementary schools can choose whether to implement a numerical grading scale or letter grading scale but no student can receive a failing grade.

Schools can choose to keep traditional letter grades or use the city’s new grading policy for students in grades six through eight. In those grades, students will receive a “course in progress” instead of an “F” letter grade and parents can choose to switch their child’s passing letter grades to a “pass” (P). “P” grades will not be used to determine student’s grade point average, officials said.

The same option applies to public high schools. High schools can choose their grading scales and students failing to meet course requirements will receive grades of “course in progress”(NX) instead of an “F” grade. Parents and guardians of high school students can request to have their child’s passing letter grades to a “credit” (CR). Just like “P” grades, “CR” grades will not be factored into a high schooler’s GPA.

Schools staff are expected to support students in middle and high school who receive “course in progress” grades with their course work past the end of the term. If high school students fail to meet course requirements by relevant deadlines set by their instructors though to complete a course in progress they will receive a failing final grade, DOE officials warned.

The new system is similar to what officials enacted in the spring while students, parents and teachers first grappled with remote learning challenges.

“This year’s grading policy maintains a high bar for student achievement and keeps our students engaged while being responsive to the flexibility our families need in the ongoing pandemic, ” DOE spokesperson Danielle Filson wrote in an email. ” Schools will select a grading scale that meets the needs of their community with a high expectation and the necessary flexibility to best support New York City students.”

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