MCPS makes change to grading policy

Jan. 24, 2021, 10:20 a.m. | By Rina Haimson | 9 months ago

MCPS announced that a missing work grade will change to a 50 percent

On Dec. 9, the MCPS Board of Education announced changes to the second semester curriculum in order to address the high failure rate due to virtual learning. A list of these changes can be found here and includes a reduction in the number of graded assignments as well as a change to the way that missing assignments will be graded. Instead of a Z (representing a zero), MCPS changed it to a 50 percent for missing assignments unless there is sufficient communication with the parents about the assignment. While the hope is that this new policy will prevent students from failing too many classes, some have concerns about potential problems that could arise.

This decision is slightly controversial, with teachers and students both worried about the potential downsides. Freshman Mekides Dixon shared some concerns that the new policy might not push students to do the work in the first place. “I understand that since it's 50 percent, they might think it’ll help their grade, but in the end, do they even deserve to have that 50 percent if they aren’t doing the work?” Dixon said. 

With a less severe penalty given to students who do not turn in work, Dixon believed there is less motivation, as missing an assignment or two might not affect grades as much. Dixon said that this could lead to less understanding of the actual material, as homework is generally necessary for students to actually understand the lessons.

Additionally, there is the concern of the change in grades not actually helping students in the long run. Science teacher Leslie Blaha worried that the new grading policy won’t solve the real problems at the root of students failing. “It fixes the wrong problem. It doesn’t fix any of the problems… First quarter grades were bad for various reasons, but MCPS’s fix for this was to give more students 50 percent on their work,” Blaha said. Blaha believes that by boosting grades, MCPS would fix the surface-level issue of low grades temporarily, but fail to address the issues that might cause failing grades in the first place.

Online learning was a huge change for most teachers and students, leading to many struggles.The change in grading policy, no matter how well it actually works out, was started due to a startling trend in grades over the first quarter. The Washington Post reported on the increase in failing grades in MCPS, stating, for example, that “more than 36 percent of ninth-graders from low income families failed the first marking period in English. That compares with fewer than 6 percent last year.” Given these concerning statistics, MCPS’s response is understandable, and it remains to be seen the effect that the new grading policy will have.

Last updated: Jan. 24, 2021, 10:23 a.m.

Tags: MCPS COVID-19 grading policy

Rina Haimson. Hi! My name is Rina, and I'm a junior staff writer. I am a theater kid, and also like listening to music, reading, and playing video games when I'm not writing articles. More »

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