Heading toward the test, probably. (Photo: Elizabeth Lavin)

Coronavirus

How Dallas ISD Is Changing Its Grading During the Pandemic

Grading isn't so easy when you have a majority poor population and no access to the resources available to them in a physical school.

Dallas ISD is in a precarious position when it comes to grading. About 86 percent of its student body is classified as economically disadvantaged, more than 25 percent higher than the state’s average. Its population of limited English speakers is almost half, more than double the state’s. There are significant challenges when it comes to making sure all of its students are receiving adequate learning despite the disruption from the pandemic. More than 12,000 hot spots were purchased for students who lacked access to internet. All of these things affect grading, especially when these kids don’t have a school to go to.

Yesterday, our sister publication People Newspapers reported on the district’s new plan for grading:

What the district did come up with, Dallas ISD leadership explained, was a hybrid of pass/fail that would still provide letter grades, but would not unfairly penalize students, too.

The prevailing mantra, it seemed, was “first, do no harm.”

The district will adopt a hybrid of a pass/fail system that will base grade point averages and class rankings on the first semester’s averages. Grades will come from the district’s comprehensive curriculum rather than from teacher-created assignments to create consistency across the district, and all assignments – whether it’s a project, classwork, homework, or a test – will be weighted the same.

Weekly grades for core subjects like math or English have been reduced to one grade, instead of a minimum of two.

When students return next year, the district will begin assessing students to see if there are areas that need to be shored up academically, so teachers can create a plan to help students who may be a bit behind.

It’s not as aggressive as Los Angeles’ decision to do away with “F” grades. But the second semester’s grade won’t be incorporated into class rank or GPA decisions; it’ll only verify whether the student passed the course and should receive credit. Head here for more details on yesterday’s meeting.

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