De Blasio unveils new public school grading policy due to coronavirus crisis

Mayor Bill de Blasio officially announced on Tuesday a new grading policy for Big Apple public schools due to the coronavirus crisis.

“We want to make sure the grading policy we’re using now fits the reality of the moment now,” de Blasio said during a conference call with reporters as he outlined the new grading policy affecting all grade levels.

“It came down to the notion of what we owe our kids at this moment – first of all flexibility,” the mayor said as he noted that the coronavirus pandemic forced more than one million city school kids to move to remote learning when all city school buildings shuttered on Mar. 16.

Under the new policy, for kindergarten through fifth grade, instead of traditional grades, there will be two grading standards in which students will either receive “meets standards” or “needs improvement.”

Those evaluations will be based on existing course requirements such as submitted assignments, projects and writing samples.

“Any child we need more time with we’re going to find a way to use the summer,” de Blasio said, explaining, “We do know that we can use online learning all the time so we’ll have options for the summer for kids that need extra help.”

For city middle school kids in grades 6 through 8, students will either receive “meets standards,” “needs improvement,” or “course in progress,” which means the student needs more time to finish school work, under the new grading policy.

The existing grading scales will be used for city high school students and students who require more time to finish school work will be enrolled in summer-fall support programs.

“We’re going to work with all our high school kids and keep things moving forward,” said de Blasio, who added that the new grading policy was built with the “foundation” of helping city senior’s graduate.

Seniors, de Blasio said, “are first priority.”

The city is now giving high schoolers the option after receiving a passing letter grade to convert it to a “pass” rating, leaving their GPA unaffected.

“Any high school student who earned credit by completing a course traditionally would get a grade that would go into GPA,” de Blasio said. “In this environment we’re giving young people an option on the high school level.”

De Blasio said that high school seniors will “get the most intense support of any student in the school system.”

“We just want to make sure every senior who can graduate does,” Hizzoner said.

Richard CarranzaRichard CarranzaStefan Jeremiah

Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza called the new grading policy, “an elegant way to thread the needle.”

“This is about recognizing the needs and the strengths of our students as we go forward…recognizing the acute trauma the COVID-19 crisis has wrought for them,” Carranza told reporters.

Carranza noted that when it comes to summer school “there are multiple scenarios we are modeling and working through about what summer school will look like.”

The chancellor said the grading policy will “identify students that need additional support” and “provide time” to complete the school work.

“The goal here is not to fail students,” Carranza said.

Meanwhile, de Blasio announced that the Big Apple will hold “one big citywide” virtual graduation ceremony for high school seniors.

“We’re going to do something very special,” said the mayor, adding that there will be “special stars” participating in the ceremony, some of whom have graduated from city public schools.

“They’re going to celebrate you and remind you of the greatness of the students that come out of the New York City public schools,” de Blasio said, speaking directly to seniors.

The mayor continued, “You may not have the traditional ceremony you were looking forward to [but] we’re going to give you something you’ll remember for the rest of your life.”


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