Grading meme final

On Monday, Dec. 14, LAUSD sent a memo that was sent to all Secondary School Teachers that was not bargained with UTLA. While UTLA always prioritizes putting students first and supports humane grading policies that consider the needs of the students and communities we serve, the timing — 4 days before the end of the semester and in the midst of bargaining a plan for the second semester — is problematic.  The distribution of this memo to members created unnecessary confusion and chaos to educators who — on top of too many standardized assessments — are trying their best to close out 2020.   

UTLA will continue to press the district and make sure that the information from this memo rolls out in a way that is sustainable for students, teachers and families. The bottom line is that it does not resolve the issue of grading during a pandemic. LAUSD and UTLA must work together to develop a better way to handle grades in the second semester, in a way that takes into account the challenges that our students and members face during this crisis.  Like our students, our members are working harder than ever before.  Educators deserve to take a much-needed break during the winter recess, and UTLA is pushing for LAUSD to extend the deadlines they outline in the memo (12/17/20, 1/29/21 and 2/15/21) to allow ample time to work with students on grade improvement after the winter recess.

UTLA was not given ample time for input or collaboration before the district posted the memo, which was picked up by the media. In LAUSD and in districts across the state and country, more students are receiving failing grades during the pandemic. Disproportionately, Black and Brown students and students in foster care and who are experiencing homelessness are receiving an increased number of Ds and Fs. Failing grades affect students’ lives on a long-term basis.  This is the district’s attempt to allow students opportunities to improve their grades.

Here is a Summary of LAUSD’s memo:

  • All Fall Semester 2020 grades of “F” and “NP” will be automatically converted to “Incomplete” (“I”) before report cards are sent.
  • Students will have extra time during Winter Break and the first few weeks of Spring Semester to complete missing assignments and change their “Incomplete” to a passing letter grade.  The “Change of Final Mark Form” must be submitted by February 15, 2021.
  • Teachers will be offered their hourly rate of pay to conduct office hours during Winter Break to support students who need help completing assignments.  Teachers may be asked to work with students outside of their class rosters.  These teachers will NOT be responsible for creating make-up assignments for students that are not on their class rosters. 
  • All “Incomplete” grades that have not been changed by 2/16/20 will be converted back to “F”.
  • Students whose grades are converted back to “F” on 2/16 will be eligible for credit recovery.

What this means for our members:

  • Teachers who have assigned the grades of “F” and/or “NP” to their students must send students the completed “Incomplete Marks Form” (Attachment B of memo) by the end of this week (12/17/20). 
  • Teachers can choose one of the following ways for students to change their “Incomplete” to a passing grade:
    • Complete missing assignments (at the teacher’s discretion, this could be all assignments, or selected assignments)
    • Complete Edgenuity Fall Booster Modules that correlate with content taught during Fall Semester
    • Complete other, teacher-selected online work modules
  • Students must submit make-up work by 1/29/21.
  • Teachers must submit the “Change of Final Mark Form” (Attachment C of the memo) for all students who have completed the agreed-upon make-up work no later than 2/15/21.

The pandemic has exposed so many systemic problems with our education system - from underfunding, to insufficient resources, to over-testing - and now to grading. Nobody is an expert in “how to grade during a pandemic.” UTLA will be discussing the grading issue among their leadership bodies and with the larger membership, and we hope to work with the district to develop a better policy for the Spring Semester.