New grading policy puts a floor of 55% for all assignments

Responding to a dramatic downward shift in classroom grades, district leadership changed the practices of all teachers to avoid students failing.

Continuing into the second semester of the 2020-21 school year, the Santa Ana Unified School District, S.A.U.S.D., has changed the grading policy.  The shift in grading policy raised the minimum percentage of every assignment to 55%.

Counselor Mrs. Laurie Tristan said, “Absolutely!!! There is no reason to have bad grades right now with all of the help that all the teachers provide in-office hours, time in class to complete work, the new grading policy, etc!! I highly encourage that students stay focused in classes as best they can and attend office hours for questions and extra help.”

When the change happened at the end of first semester, students who had very good grades probably did not see any changes to their Aeries grades.  For any students who were receiving a C or lower, they probably saw a significant bump as any missing assignments or zeros were instantly raised. 

Since the new policy was adopted, teachers have had to adjust their grading policies.  The district asked teachers to practice “compassionate grading” as well as accept late assignments and allow students to retake tests and quizzes.  While some of the directives did not have strict criteria, the 55% minimum was crystal clear in practice.

Math Teacher Mr. Jim Axton shared his thoughts and feelings about the new grading policy.  “I support the district’s intent for ‘compassionate grading’, but I think their one-size-fits-all formula was not the best option.  I already had my own ‘compassionate grading’ in place and when the two systems overlapped – it made students who did little or no work appear to be dedicated.”

There are several reasons why students lacked participation in class while distance learning.  Some have poor Wi-Fi, bad cameras and mics on their computers, or hectic home environments.  The trauma of the COVID pandemic needs to be taken into account, too, for students showing difficulty.

There are also large groups of students who have adapted to distance learning.  “Hard-working students get good grades,” said Axton.  

According to Tristan, she agrees and believes that students should participate in class. 

I strongly believe that whether we are in person or in distance learning, students need to participate in their education. Participation helps students learn by being better involved and engaged in classes. It is super important for students to take charge of their learning because it is each student’s education. You each get only one chance in your current grade,” said Tristan.  “For example, if you are an eighth grader, you only get one shot at eighth grade, so make the most of your eighth-grade year and participate!”