Concerning Grades: An Open Letter to @UTR

This is a copy of an email that I’ve sent to UTR today. I’d appreciate any feedback or input you may have. I know many teachers and parents are concerned with teachers providing a more rigorous distance learning experience than the end of last school year. While agree I with these sentiments, I am also concerned with the expectations as they’re associated with grading.

I want students to have hope for next year; I don’t want students losing all hope and hating school because of F grades when they’re already struggling. It’s tantamount to kicking them when they’re already down. This is not a normal school year. Students from all backgrounds and communities are facing struggles they are not sharing with us, that they may not know how to communicate.

Trauma strongly affects students’ academic success. And more.

Hello,

I’d like to give some input on the ongoing conversation about grading and providing equity for students during distance learning. I have two main concerns regarding the concept of high expectations related to grades for students: student work environment, and student/parent assistance with work.

There are many students that are facing economic issues; students may be losing their homes, moving in with extended family, etc. Many families have parents who have lost jobs, working overtime, etc. 

The working environment for students will vary greatly; while one student may have a dedicated office and desktop to work from, another student will be completing their work on the couch with siblings and/or cousins running around them at the same time. The examples I’m giving are from actual experiences at the end of last school year.

It is imperative that we do not do a disservice to students that are already struggling by compounding their trauma with F grades. I strongly recommend against the use of F grade during this time. Please work with board members to create a grading scale that provides equity and consideration to our struggling students and their parents.

Thank you for your hard work and for your consideration,

Caleb Owens

ELA, Film & Multimedia Teacher

teachingtitans.com

Hercules Middle School

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