The “rigor” bar is getting lower and lower in New York City schools as a new recommendation by its Department of Education would lessen students’ GPAs in determining their class rank.
COVID-19-related difficulties were noted by DOE officials in urging city schools to make the change, the New York Post reports.
Schools are “encouraged to move away from using grades as a means of comparative student recognition and instead celebrate all students for navigating the significant challenges during the COVID-19 crisis.”
Typically, a student’s grade point average is the measure of class rank, with “some additional weights for advanced coursework.” Notably, it’s a big factor in college admissions. Big Apple schools would throw in (rather subjective) measures such as “equity, motivation, and academic integrity.”
The DOE and Chancellor Richard Carranza say the move only will pertain to this COVID-affected school year. However, the Post notes critics who claim this is just the latest chapter of a “pre-existing distaste for standardized tests and grading.”
One city teacher said while he understands the difficulty of dealing with the pandemic, “we are moving farther and farther away from tangible metrics in all areas […] the danger, in my mind, is that these things sort of slide in as policy for the future.”
Opponents of the traditional letter grading system argue that it is an unreliable mark of student ability.
Multiple measures, they say, provide a more comprehensive view of performance and expand opportunities for kids with lesser resources.
Critics argue that pivoting away from standardized assessments will make it difficult to appraise academic progress or hold teachers and administrators accountable.
DOE Guidelines for the current academic year have redefined the role of letter grades.
With parental permission, kids can now scrap an unwanted grade in favor of a pass or no pass format with no impact on their GPA.
Last month the city DOE forbade teachers from penalizing students for late work and poor attendance, and prohibited grades of “F” (failing) as students are allowed to make up all work.
That “more comprehensive” take on student performance means parents can opt out of traditional letter grades for their children, and instead get notifications of “meeting standards” and/or “passing.”
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