Grading policies changed for the remainder of school year

FCPS introduces three updates to the secondary grading system


Morgan Wu

SERENE STUDYING — Morgan Wu works on her chemistry homework. She is able to work stress-free due to the new grading policies.

Aleena Gul, News Editor

In an effort to reduce stress induced by virtual learning, FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand announced three changes to the grading policies for middle and high school students on March 16.

According to FCPS, the new grading policies will be effective for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year and will ensure that students are not penalized for challenges caused by virtual learning.

“We continue to develop our efforts to support students who had a difficult time with pandemic learning,” Brabrand said in an FCPS message on March 18. “It is an important change and, perhaps, sharing this with high school and middle school students and parents now will help alleviate worry and stress that some may be feeling.”

FCPS allows high school students to choose a pass mark (P) for up to two courses instead of receiving Cs or Ds as their final mark. The pass mark will not impact a student’s grade-point average (GPA).

“The pass-fail is nice because we’ve all been in different circumstances,” math teacher Emily Fifer said. “This year, we don’t know what [student’s] learning environment is at home [and] what the teacher’s teaching environment is at home. I think [Pass/Fail] just gives an opportunity to not make this year affect [students’] education going forward.

With the dramatic increase in students receiving failing marks this year, FCPS also permits students to replace F grades with a No Mark (NM). Students will then retake the course during the summer to earn a grade that will replace the NM on their transcript.

“I really do agree with having the no mark policy at least for the future,” said junior Arman Nikmorand, McLean’s representative for the Student Advisory Council. “I think that [for some] students, it takes slower for them to learn something, but having it during the summer would be something really beneficial for all FCPS students. I really do think this could be like a futuristic policy as well.”

Due to the four-day synchronous schedule, there were fewer days to learn course material compared to the normal school year. With less time to prepare for AP exams and Standards of Learning (SOL) assessments, FCPS is encouraging flexibility for final exams such that the scores will only improve a student’s grade.

“[Final exam policies] definitely takes some stress off my back because I’m not as worried about final exams as I was before,” junior Morgan Wu said. “It’s really nice and I am glad [FCPS] made that decision.”

Middle school students also received similar updates on their grading policies for F marks. However, they will only be allowed to choose a ‘P’ mark for any class in replacement of a D or D+.

“I’m quite happy about the new grading policies,” Wu said. “I think, especially during these times, it’s great that [FCPS is] taking into account students’ and teachers’ voices. It’s lightening the load on both students and teachers.”