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Fairbanks North Star Borough School District releases grading guidelines for remote learning

The school district has checked out electronic devices to students across the borough to assist...
The school district has checked out electronic devices to students across the borough to assist with remote learning. (Alex Bengel/KTVF)(KTVF)
Published: Apr. 9, 2020 at 9:48 AM AKDT
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The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District has released its grading guidelines for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year.

At all grade levels, student grading is being impacted by remote learning due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Elementary students will receive NS for their fourth quarter grade, with middle school students receiving NG. Both of these indicate insufficient evidence to assign a grade. Third quarter grades will still be counted.

For high school seniors, academic indicators like grade point average, class rank and honor cords will be based on their academic standing at the end of the school year’s first semester.

According to Melanie Hadaway, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning, “Some students’ GPAs will go up because they’re not including second semester, and some students’ GPAs will go down because they’re not including second semester. It’s one semester less of inclusion in that cumulative calculation.”

Hadaway said Fairbanks is not alone in its approach to grading, citing that Districts in Washington are adopting pass/fail grading, which doesn’t count toward cumulative GPA. “Fairbanks is not alone. It is not just Fairbanks students who are going to have weird things on their transcripts from the spring of 2020. Students across the country are dealing with these same kind of things,” she said.

Teachers for all grade levels are being advised to provide feedback rather than grading to assignments turned in by students during the ongoing remote learning period.

“We certainly hope that students and families will choose to stay engaged because it’s good for kids and their brains, and it will help them be more successful next fall, or whenever we get back to school,” Hadaway said.

She went on to say that a guiding principle behind making the remote learning period ungraded is equity. “We certainly don’t want to be in a position where those students who have more are able to do more and are able to be rewarded for that, whereas students who have less and are not able to access learning perhaps as easily or have situations that allow them to dedicate that time to learning are penalized for that,” she said.

Hadaway and district Superintendent Karen Gaborik want to reassure high school seniors that colleges are adjusting their operations around COVID-19.

“Weird transcripts and unusual things happening in this semester will be the norm and other school districts. Other institutions will be prepared for that. Everyone will know that the spring of 2020 was the COVID closure,” Hadaway said.

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