Duluth Public Schools has implemented new grading practices for term four distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An informational presentation on those practices was made to the Duluth School Board Tuesday night.

The district has decided not to calculate individual term four grades for middle and high school students, but use work during term four only as a way for students to improve their earned term three grade.

Term three was scheduled to close March 27, but due to the closure of schools ordered by Gov. Tim Walz, grades were calculated based on work assigned prior to March 17. Schools closed March 18. Work assigned prior to the closure was accepted through April 17.

High school students also have the option to request their semester grade be moved to a credit/no credit indicator on their transcript, which wouldn’t impact GPA. Seniors will have to work with their principal or counselor before May 22. All other students currently enrolled have until June 5.

Students who did not earn credit during the second semester will have the option to recover credit either in the summer or fall. Letter grades of "F" will not be given for the second semester and will be replaced with a "no mark."

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Even though there will be an official final grade for term four, teachers are expected to provide feedback to students so they know how they are doing.

DOCUMENT: Duluth Public Schools grade reporting during distance learning

For elementary school, report cards are still standards-based, so if teachers don’t have sufficient evidence showing a student has certain skills or knowledge, then a teacher can use “in progress” or “distance learning” instead of a zero.

“We wanted to develop grading practices that hold students harmless during distance learning due to the pandemic, and we tried to keep that in mind,” said Gail Netland, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction.

All students will have language added to their report cards and transcripts noting when distance learning was done as well as discouraging and cautioning the use of grades during that time against the student for academic placement, admission, acceleration or remediation. This note is required by the Minnesota Department of Education.