Dear Los Al Unified Families:
I hope this finds you all healthy and able to find strength in each other as we weather this crisis together. I could not be more proud of the united efforts from our teachers, staff, students and families to make learning and various normal school routines accessible and connected during this time of social distance.
I want you to know that the members of our Board of Education and I are keenly aware that the stress of the situation on you and our students is severe and has required major changes in all of our lives. We continue to prioritize wellness as one of our foundational tenets of distance learning and are exercising care and compassion to ensure that the mental health and well-being of our students, and staff are addressed through our emergency distance learning environment.
While we have focused on the crucial tasks of staying connected with our students and enhancing our instruction, we also need to remember that education is compulsory in California and students by law must attend school for the entire year, regardless of how different school looks in a time like this. This means that we must also grapple with the complicated question of how to assess student progress for the second semester.
Given our commitment to instructional access and equity for all students and our responsibility to comply with specific state guidelines that students not be penalized by the COVID-19 crisis, we have worked with teachers and administrators from TK-12 to design an emergency grading policy with two goals:
- Fairly assess student learning for the 10-week period before school shutdown as well as the period during shutdown.
- Hold students harmless for any negative impacts on academic achievement the shutdown may have caused.
After a thorough review of the California Department of Education’s grading guidelines along with analyzing various information on the grading and transcript implications from UC/CSU and other higher education institutions, we believe our policy makes sense because it acknowledges that students were able to complete more than half of their semester work under normal conditions and are now able to improve their grades from where they were on March 13 — the last day before classroom closure — based on work they complete in emergency distance learning. It also precludes students from failing and ensures all students meet end of year requirements. This policy gives students greater incentive to attend online class, engage with peers and further their learning.
Our policy addresses the differing needs of elementary, middle and high school students.
Modified Elementary Grading Policy
Students will receive a third trimester report card at the end of the year which notes whether they meet instructional standards or need review. All students in grades TK-2 will receive marks of “Meets Standards” or “Need Review” in the content areas of reading, writing, and mathematics. In Grades 3-5, students will receive the same marks in the content areas of reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies. These achievement marks will reflect their work as of March 13, combined with progress made toward standards mastery during the period of classroom closure.
Modified Middle/High School Grading Policy
Students will receive letter grades that reflect their work as of March 13, combined with any growth in achievement made during the period of school closure. The grades will be assigned on a scale of A to D. No student will be assigned a failing grade for the second semester of 2020. Our goal, as always, is for every student to succeed, so the policy also sets out detailed expectations that must be met before a teacher can assign a D grade. These conditions include extensive efforts by teachers and counselors to reach out to students and parents to ensure that all available resources are made available to help raise a student’s grade.
Later today, your principal will send you more detailed information regarding the modifications to the grading policies and how they will be applied at your school. If you have further questions after receiving these communications, please contact your principal for assistance.
Schools also will be sending out tentative information about the celebratory events that usually occur at the end of the year. Our emergency online instruction will remain in operation through May 28 (June 4 for Weaver) and will continue to follow our adopted 2019-20 School Calendar.
Finally, on behalf of our Board of Education, I would like to acknowledge the extraordinary effort and dedication of our staff, who have continued working for you during the crisis, whether instructing our 10,000 students in virtual classrooms, distributing meals to hundreds of families each day, or getting each of our facilities ready for the day when we are reunited. They are an amazing bunch of people! Tomorrow, our Board of Education will be passing various resolutions honoring our classified employees, teachers/certificated employees and administrators. Please join us in honoring their efforts and dedication.
Stay safe and healthy, take care of your loved ones and know that we are — and will continue to be — Better Together!
Andrew Pulver, Ed.D