Madison School District sticking to ‘pass/no pass’ for high schoolers during COVID-19 closure despite some calls for letter grade option

Scott Girard:

A survey with more than 550 signatures is calling for the Madison Metropolitan School District to offer the option of letter grades to high school students during virtual learning, but district officials are maintaining their plan for a “pass/no pass” system.

The district announced it would use the “pass/no pass” grading system earlier in April to do the least harm to students’ grades, given the unprecedented shift to virtual learning for students and staff and inequitable access to the internet.

While that aligned with a petition started by some high school staff members and signed by more than 100 people, some students are disappointed they no longer have the opportunity to raise their grade point average. West High School senior Cris Cruz said he’s been trying to get his GPA up to a 3.8 since his freshman year.

“For a lot of students including me, the transition between middle school and high school is sometimes rough,” Cris said. “Students spend the rest of their high school careers trying to improve their GPA because it isn’t until later on that we understand how important GPA is.”

The district’s policy freezes students’ GPAs as they were at the end of first semester. Staff reiterated Wednesday during a virtual press conference that allowing some to opt into letter grades would “continue to create more inequity,” said Cindy Green, MMSD’s director of secondary programs and Pathways.

Madison’s taxpayer supported K-12 school district, despite spending far more than most, has long tolerated disastrous reading results.

In addition, Madison recently expanded its least diverse schools.