Faced with soaring Ds and Fs, California schools will no longer penalize students on missed deadlines and behavior.
Los Angeles and San Diego Unified, the two largest school districts in California, are changing the way they grade. The decision will affect some 660,000 students.
The cities have instructed public schools not to penalize students for behavior and missed deadlines. This includes unexcused absences, class engagement, and late work.
The stated goal is to grade students on how much they learn, rather than how hard they work.
“Equitable grading practices align with the understanding that as people we learn at different rates and in different ways and we need multiple opportunities to do so,” Yoshimoto-Towery, L.A. Unified’s chief academic officer said.
Therefore, new policies encourage teachers to let students revise essays and retake tests.
“Just because I did not answer a test question correctly today doesn’t mean I don’t have the capacity to learn it tomorrow and retake a test,” Yoshimoto-Towery said.
“It’s teaching students that failure is a part of learning. We fall, we get back up, we learn from the feedback that we get,” he continued.
Widening Racial Gaps
The policy change comes as the California school districts see wider racial gaps in school achievement.
Educators are concerned that the longstanding gap between Asian and white students compared to Black and Hispanic students is widening.
According to the L.A. Times, the racial gap in achievement widened as much as 21%.
Old grading practices “inadvertently perpetuate achievement and opportunity gaps, rewarding our most privileged students and punishing those who are not,” a letter to the district’s principals wrote.
They also “justify and to provide unequal educational opportunities based on a student’s race or class,” the letter claims.
Therefore, educational authorities hope that new grading practices will help mitigate those gaps.
Grades are falling on a national level due to the pandemic for all students. Black and Hispanic students are the most affected.