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Santa Barbara schools temporarily doing away with report card Fs

Courtesy of SBUSD
All members of the Santa Barbara Unified School District board—shown here at a recent Zoom meeting—voted in favor of the new grading policy.";s:

The Santa Barbara Unified School District has adopted a new grading policy for secondary students—grades 7-12—as they continue with distance learning.

By a unanimous vote, the school board passed a grading policy that now includes an option for a grade of 'No Credit' in lieu of an F.

The proposed change was prompted by data showing a drop in student success rates as the pandemic and distance learning continue.

“The primary intent of the proposal was to provide a hold-harmless reprieve to students who are struggling to pass courses during these pandemic times,” said Shawn Carey, assistant superintendent of secondary education.

Carey reported that roughly a third of secondary students are earning a D or F in at least one class…with some students getting Ds and Fs in multiple classes. These numbers are higher than prior years and disproportionately high among traditionally underserved student groups.

Several high school students spoke at the meeting in favor of the proposed changes. They cited internet and Zoom problems as well as other circumstances beyond their control, and noted the need for more flexibility. Teacher input was also included in the final draft of the policy.

There is also a new focus on increased communication between teachers and families when grades begin to fall. If a student does receive a No Credit instead of an F, a documented plan of action is required.

“I want to reiterate and clarify that this proposed policy is a short-term solution,” said Board President Kate Ford, “and it will be implemented starting on January 19 going forward, not back in time.”

The grading policy will be revisited when students return to hybrid or in-person learning.

Beth Thornton is a freelance reporter for KCBX, and a contributor to Issues & Ideas. She was a 2021 Data Fellow with the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, and has contributed to KQED's statewide radio show The California Report.
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