COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Columbia Public Schools’ High School and Middle School students will get a second chance to improve their grades this fall with a new grade adjustment.
The district sent emails to families on Tuesday explaining the two grading adjustments CPS is making due to the struggles of virtual learning during COVID-19.
Jen Rukstad, CPS Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education, presented to the Columbia Board of Education in early October, showing that the number of F grades in core classes for elementary schools is up 35% compared to last year, while middle school was up 6.5% and high school was up 53%.
Rukstad said high school students with failing grades will now complete a pathway to get credit for the classes.
If that pathway is completed, she said what would’ve been an F will change to a D and the student will then gain credit in the class.
“We're trying to ensure that students have the best opportunity to graduate from high school,” said Rukstad. “We are trying to be responsive to what has been an extremely difficult situation for every student in our district. And if we can give one more opportunity to gain that credit, that's what we want to try to do.”
While Christine Black, a Rock Bridge parent said this new adjustment will impact her son, but she doesn't believe this second chance is teaching the students a good lesson.
“I don't think it's teaching them to be responsible for errors and for not making something work to begin with,” said Black.
Rukstad said this new adjustment is about student’s futures and their ability to graduate from high school.
For Middle School students there will be two different abbreviations that are considered failing grades. The difference between the two is what information it can provide the district and families.
CPS explains an email that an IE (insufficient evidence) indicates the student did not meet the learning standard for the class, just as a grade of F would.
An IE shows if a student has turned in no assignments, very few assignments, and has not participated in enough assessment to make a case for an F should receive the grade of IE.
If a student receives a F that means the student did turn in assignments and was participating in class or assignments, but received low scores.
Rukstad said this will give the district a clearer understanding of what is behind the low grades and will use that for comparison in the future.
Rukstad said F grades will not be shown with presenting the IE grades as well.
Some CPS parents worry these grading adjustments are trying to cover up the failing grades that were presented to the board, but Rukstad disagrees.
“Are we trying to cover things up,” ask Rukstad. “No, we're not instead we're trying to give a student who make may have had a situation that impacted them in the first nine weeks of the school year, and give them one more chance.”
But Black and other CPS parents are not confident that is the main reason for this change.
“I don't believe that at all,” said Black. “I think when those IPR’s came out and they saw that huge increase in the F’s, they realized there was a failure, and again this is just kind of a misguided attempt to make up for that and adequacy of their online learning.”