Denver schools lets students decide: letter grades or credit, no-credit

Apr 18, 2020 by

Denver Public Schools is giving students the choice of how they want to be graded for the spring semester, though officials promise no students will receive an F during the coronavirus pandemic.

Denver’s Deputy Superintendent of Academics Tamara Acevedo explained the revamped grading system in a newsletter this week, after feedback forced the district to reconsider an initial proposal for a credit or no-credit system, Chalkbeat reports.

The new DPS grading system freezes students’ grades on April 6, the day before the district transitioned to online learning. Students can improve on that grade, but it won’t go down. Failing students will receive a “no credit” grade, rather than an F. For each class, the district is also allowing all students to opt for a simple “credit” or “no credit” mark, instead of a letter grade.

The compromise system follows feedback from parents and students, including some struggling to connect online and others concerned about how a lack of letter grades will impact their prospects for college.

“One student said, ‘I’ve worked so hard to have straight As this semester for the first time in my high school career and now it’s not going to count,’” Northfield High School Principal Amy Bringedahl told Chalkbeat.

According to site, “the approach is different for elementary and middle school than for high school. Elementary school students won’t get letter grades. Rather, their report cards will contain feedback about whether they understand ‘the critical learning for the grading period.’

“Middle schools can choose to follow the elementary school grading approach or adopt a modified version of the high school approach, Acevedo wrote.”

The new grading policy for high schoolers requires that “students continue to engage in learning in accordance with their school’s remote learning plan,” Acevedo wrote.

Meanwhile, thousands of metro Denver students are AWOL.

While it’s unclear how many DPS students have failed to log on since officials canceled in-person classes, CBS4 reports thousands are falling behind across the region.

At last check, Englewood Public Schools said it had 97% student engagement in remote learning, the Boulder Valley School District had 96% participation, Elizabeth Public Schools had 95%, Brighton 27J had 88%, and Westminster Public Schools had 80%.

Douglas County, Aurora, and Cherry Creek School Districts are not tracking student participation in remote learning. However, a spokesperson for Cherry Creek Schools said the district estimates only 1% of students have not been able to engage.

Other school districts said it’s too early to have accurate participation numbers.

Among all of those numbers, however, one common thread remains: there are still thousands of students around the metro who haven’t been engaging in remote learning. In Brighton 27J alone, schools across the district have been unable to contact 1,866 students. …

Many districts across the Denver metro area have implemented a grading policy that as long as students are participating, their grades can only improve, they can’t go down. But for those students who haven’t been in contact with their teachers, their grades could suffer.

For those students who haven’t been engaging, some school districts are asking social services to conduct welfare checks.

Source: Denver schools lets students decide: letter grades or credit, no-credit |

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