Dr. Charles R. Miller, the director of curriculum, instruction and assessment for Verona public schools, notified school families Monday that all schools are switching to pass/fail grading for the rest of the school year.
Miller said in an email to families that the district’s administrative team has been talking to teachers and other administrators about what potential changes could be made to grades in the wake of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus COVID-19.
“When our students are physically attending HBW and VHS, their teachers assign traditional grades (A, B, C, D, and F) as a standard practice in assessing learning via homework, participation, projects, and assessments,” he wrote. “This is how schools function when times are normal. However, what happens when times are not normal, when times are extraordinary? What does grading look like and how do we make sure that we are being fair and consistent with all of our students?”
Miller said that, in the beginning, when it seemed like schools would only be closed briefly, keeping the existing grading system seemed like the right thing to do. “However, as we are now confronted with the distinctive challenge of our schools closing for a prolonged period of time, the conversation regarding grading our students has shifted,” Miller said. “We particularly believe this is necessary when considering the myriad of hardships that may present themselves at this time, such as a family member becoming ill, a parent losing a job, a family-owned business that is struggling, increased and ongoing social isolation and more. In short, while we all desire a measure of continuity, we do not believe that traditional practices are sufficient or appropriate in the chaotic and unstable environment we currently find ourselves in.” Many public and private colleges and universities have already moved to pass/fail grading in place of letter grades.
Rather than have separate third and fourth marking period, the district will now combine them into a “second semester.” Miller said teachers will continue to assess students based upon their completion, submission and understanding of their work, and implement shorter assessments, projects, and writing assignments.