Double A Grading Policy at San Dieguito Union High School District
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On April 3rd, the principals, instructional leaders, and the San Dieguito Faculty Association designated a Pass/Fail System as a means of attaining credit for the 2nd semester of the 2019-2020 school year. However, this system creates a baseline of inequity among students that the Board fails to address that is exacerbated in 3rd party scholarships as well as internship programs that have not guaranteed an explicit approval of these pass/fail system. What we are calling for is a system of enforcing a policy of putting an A/A- on every students' transcript except for physical education classes and/or any other classes that were previously on the pass/fail system before the pandemic. This policy ensures that no student is left behind on any question of inequity and assures that no student and their future is compromised as a result of the pandemic. I've listed a few reasons as to why this method would greatly increase accessibility and equity among the students at Torrey Pines and the SDUHSD:
This was the article released announcing the decision that there would be a pass/fail system implemented in our school: https://www.sduhsd.net/documents/Corona%20Virus/SDUHSD%20Coronavirus%20Update%20-17-%2004-03-20.pdf
1. Accessibility and Equity - Currently, the Pass/Fail system is inherently inequitable for students that have come down with the coronavirus and are unable to be present for the classes that they otherwise would have been present for. Issues related to technological device issues (that cannot simply be resolved by making chromebooks accessible like lack of access to internet), family and friend responsibilities (certain family circumstances such as the unfortunate passing of a relative or friend), students with disabilities (vision and hearing loss as well as physical disabilities that prevent them from typing or clicking the mouse that makes them unable to participate in online learning) that are simply not addressed by the short paragraph released by the SDUHSD in their post.
Additionally, the impact on third party scholarships that families and students may rely on for college or technical education may not accept the Pass/fail System and revoke qualifications (even if some colleges will make accommodations) heavily impairing the ability for students to even go to higher education as a result of the grading system.
2. Mental Health for Students and Faculty - Students have been facing an unprecedented amount of stress as a result of the pandemic. Family financial instability from the massive unemployment crisis, the possibility of a deceased loved one, fear of being infected with the pandemic causing anxiety, alienation as a result of the required social distancing advised by the CDC, and the combination of all of those factors have contributed to unparalleled amounts of outside pressures. Moreover, the unavailability of some teachers for additional help has contributed to a laundry list of mental pressures burdening our ability to engage with our grades and schoolwork. These anxieties are magnified by grades for students as they are forced into a state of confusion and panic. This in turn affects the mental health of faculty that have trouble adjusting to distance learning and the hordes of emails that have come from students and parents concerned about their child's education and grades. Especially for classes that are involved in technical education like culinary arts, teachers are at a loss on what to do in terms of a Pass/Fail system. On top of all of that, teachers with kids are taking responsibility for their own children's education with homeschooling and they simply were not provided with the infrastructure necessary to carry out distance learning.
3. Metric - Communication between the SDUHSD board and the students have been confusing and unclear. The letter addressing the grading system did so in one paragraph that does little to establish a fair metric to evaluate the students that have either passed or failed a class. Without a clear metric to evaluate students, it becomes the subjective opinion of the teacher that opens up the possibility of leading to issues with sexism and racism that simply does not do justice to the students that are in a state of panic and mental pressures. The students have no way of checking whether their work was evaluated on a fair basis which is problematic for teachers whose policies became overwhelmingly arbitrary as a result of the power invested in them by the SDUHSD.
Solution - A policy of rewarding every student with a Double A/A- would fix all of these disparities and be the overall best solution for solving all of the problems that were and were not listed by the petition.
A concerned student at Torrey Pines High School
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