Making the grade

New policy helps students

Fairfax County Public Schools is making it harder for students to fail classes as they welcome in a new grade policy with the new school year. The policy, nicknamed the “no zero” grade policy, focuses on struggling students and giving mandatory chances to make up work.

The biggest feature of the new policy is that any student who scores below an 80 on a test must be given a chance to remediate and retake the test. The policy aims to measure learning as opposed to behavior.

“I think [the new policy] reigns true when it comes to measuring learning versus behavior except when it comes to submitting things late” English teacher Melissa Phillips-Reavis said. “If I let students turn [papers and assignments] in anytime [they] want I don’t think [they] will learn the importance of deadlines, which are so important outside of school.”

It is up to the teacher and subject department if a test will simply be re-given, or if the student will take an entirely new, or altered test. It is also the teacher’s discretion what the student must do to get the chance to retake the test, be that a review packet or study card or anything else they may choose.

“The English 10 team decided that students need to get remediation before they can get another opportunity. So that means they aren’t just taking a test doing poorly and then taking the same test again, they are getting remediation and learning somewhere in between there” English teacher Stephanie Hanson said.

The grade a pupil can receive on a retest alters depending on how many students were afforded a second opportunity. If all students in a class are given a second opportunity to be assessed the highest grade they achieve will be the grade recorded in the grade book. However if not all students receive a second chance then the highest achievable score is an 80.

Additionally, students who fail to make attempts to retake their work will not receive a zero in the grade book until the conclusion of the quarter, and those who make attempts, but do not meet the set standard are encouraged to be scored with a grade of no less than 50 in the grade book.

Also stated in the policy is that no one assignment can be worth more than 30% of the final quarter grade.

“I like the new grade policy because it give you a chance to make up your work and improve your grades if you didn’t perform well the first time” junior Grace Hatch said. “By remediating before you take a test again it ensures that the student reviewed the topic and learned something.”

The change will likely not have an effect on students in good standing, however some community members fear that teachers will begin to focus more time and attention on to struggling students, via remediation and retesting as opposed to students who are achieving sufficient grades on the first assessment.

“I don’t think [the new policy] takes time away from other students, it’s just a part of the job. I already spend so much time beyond my contract hours working, as almost everyone else I know [at Annandale] does, it is just more stressful, more exhausting which is unfortunate but if you’re really care about your students and you want to see them improve it’s a guaranteed way to see that improvement” Hanson said.

Although it is too early to determine the actual impact of the new policy, teachers and students are optimistic and hope that it will help to enrich the learning process for students.