Curriculum, Instruction and Grading during suspension of on-site classes

Governor Cuomo has extended the statewide closure of schools for the rest of the 2019-20 school year to stop the spread of COVID-19. We want to thank you for your ongoing support in providing remote instruction during these unprecedented times. We understand that this transition has been challenging for all stakeholders and we have worked conscientiously as a team in order to strengthen the learning experience for our students. We have worked to ensure that in every circumstance we are putting our students first.

During this unprecedented time, ongoing learning remains essential for our students as the foundation for their future. We recognize that the entire 4th quarter and the large majority of the 3rd marking period has occurred during a time of required remote teaching and learning. For this reason, we have determined that alternate grading practices are necessary in order to maintain our students first focus. Based upon feedback received in last week’s ThoughtExchange, we put together the following document to assist in answering questions that have been expressed by parents. The following document outlines decisions that have been made around Curriculum, Instruction, and Grading during the period of school closure.  

Sincerely,

Anthony J. Taibi
Chief Academic Officer
Questar III BOCES

General Guidelines

  • All teachers are providing daily instruction/opportunities for learning.
  • Connections with students has been a priority as well as the emotional well-being of our students and their families.
  • Communication with students and families has been occurring on a daily basis.
    • If teachers are unable to make contact with students and/or families after repeated attempts, the program principal has been made aware of the situation and additional means of contact initiated.
  • Lessons are emphasizing priority standards which are being covered in the compressed curriculum.

Quarter 4 & Final Grades (K-12) & CTE/NV (Updated May 22)

The information below outlines how grades are being captured for the 4th Quarter and how Final grades will be calculated.  The provision of grades for students and awarding of course credit must be aligned with guidance from NYSED and our own BOCES/District-wide and program specific policies.  

In recognition of the variation in resources and support available to students and family support, traditional grading practices have not been used. 

Student learning has been recorded using the following system:    

  • Teachers have used varied Forms of assessments and assignments to measure and document evidence of student learning with multiple opportunities for revision, resubmission and remedial supports. 
  • Feedback is critical during this time to provide students with indications of meeting expectations for these assignments. Feedback could be in the form of narrative comments or a score on a formative assessment (ie. 8/10), but feedback will not go into the traditional gradebook as a grade.
  • Student Assessment and Grading of student work has continued during the period of cancellation of on-site classes.  Assessments are focused upon prioritized standards within the compressed curriculum.  
    • CTE, NV, & Career Studies Courses, Google Classroom Gradebook and/or CTE Contact Log (REC and CGEC) have been used.
    • For Special Education, building and program specific measures have been implemented.

4th Quarter Grading Considerations:  In consideration of the various grading decisions that have been made throughout our component districts, we felt it was important to provide as much detail as possible to districts regarding student progress.  Therefore, we have decided that numerical grades will be supplied to districts based upon (in most cases) four quarter averages. Districts will ultimately decide how the numerical grade that we supply is integrated into their grade reporting.  We have made this decision for the benefit of our students.  So much hard work has been done throughout this period of remote instruction and we want to make sure that students receive the benefit of their hard work.  

  • During the 4th quarter as we approached learning in new ways, digital learning, flipped learning programs, current grading policies have remained in effect at teacher discretion but with flexibility. For example: Teachers wouldn’t give a student a 0 because he didn’t turn in his weekly at home fitness log for PE class. 
  • Teachers continued to grade student work during the 4th quarter, providing students and parents feedback on the work submitted but have been flexible with relaxed expectations that err on the side of students.

4th Quarter Grades

New Visions as well as all of our College in the High School courses have continued to follow the grading practices of the credit awarding institution.  

Career and Technical Education, Career Studies, and New Visions, High School (Regents Track)

Sackett Educational Center/Academy at Rensselaer Ed Center (AREC)/Catskill

  • The last day of In-Person Instruction was on March 17th.
  • Remote Learning began on March 18th.
  • The 3rd Quarter ended on April 8th and the 4th Quarter began on April 9th.
  • Progress Reports are scheduled to be mailed on May 15 (CTE) and May 19 (SpEd) and will follow the traditional format.
  • Fourth Quarter will now end on by June 18th.(Last day for student grades, June 15th)

Fourth Quarter Grades will be averaged and a numeric grade assigned, as they normally would in most cases. 

  • Comments will indicate Level of Engagement in Remote Learning

Pass/Fail Scenario:

We recognize that some student circumstances do not allow for an appropriate calculation of a fourth quarter grade and therefore may be given the opportunity to earn a PASS/FAIL for the 4th quarter, given principal approval. If a student was approved to take a Pass/Fail for the 4th Quarter, it would result in the Q4 not being included in the student’s Final Grade Calculation.  In these cases, a student’s final average would be calculated using an average of the first three quarters.

Potential Course Failures:

In cases where a student’s current average is below passing, as indicated on 4th Quarter Progress Reports, students will have until June 12th to submit all missing work. In cases where students have this status and are failing for the year, contact has been made and that current grade status has been discussed with both student and parent.  We encourage students to submit missing work prior to this date as it is completed.

Note: In most cases, 4th Quarter averages will still be used to calculate Final averages for courses.

All Elementary and Middle School Programs – Quarterly grades & averages will be computed as normal 

Report cards and Progress Reports serve to inform parents of their child’s learning and the progress that has been made during remote instruction. Progress Reports for all students will follow the same descriptive, narrative format and will serve to highlight a student’s attainment of grade level standards for a specific course.

  • Report Cards will also follow the same format:
  • Elementary and NYSAA report cards will provide a descriptive narrative.
  • Middle and High School will provide numerical grading 

Therefore, reporting during the period of emote learning will continue to follow the same format as has been done throughout the year.

Final Grades

Averages from 4th quarter will still be used and calculated as part of Final averages for courses using the following formula. 

Where 4 quarter grades were earned
Quarter Weighting Option 1: Q1=25%; Q2=25%;Q3=25%,Q4=25%

Where 3 quarter grades were earned plus a P/F for Quarter 4
Quarter Weighting Option 2: Q1=33.33%; Q2=33.33%;Q3=33.33%

Curriculum and Instruction

K-12 & Career and Technical Education

Curriculum during the suspension of onsite classes

  • The most important standards within the curriculum have been prioritized and instruction has focused on these areas. This compressed curriculum represents prioritized standards and in some cases, this may be approximately half of the curriculum for the period during which on-site classes are suspended.
  • Teachers prioritized NYS learning standards (and various industry standards for CTE) and have used a compressed curriculum model.
    • Prioritization focuses on standards that are foundational for future learning in other courses/grade levels.
    • Curriculum has been pared down, providing students exposure to and instruction of the most important standards.
    • Emphasize standards that are foundational for future learning in other courses/grade levels.
  • Time allocations:
    • Expectations for student at-home learning time should not exceed the recommendations listed below. Note that student at-home learning time includes time spent learning new material, watching video lessons, participating in class chats/hangouts, and completing assigned work and activities.
      • PK-2: 2.5 hours per week (3.5 Hours Total)
      • Gr. 3-5: 4 hours per week (5 Hours Total)
      • Gr. 6-8: up to 2 hours per week for core subjects; 1 hour per week for non-core subjects(11-12 Hours Total)
      • Gr. 9-12& CTE: 2.5 hours per week for each credit-bearing course (15-20 Hours Total

6-12 Middle and High School CTE

  • Teachers of college courses continue to follow instructions they received from the college/university.
  • Teachers of Advanced Placement courses continue to follow information provided by The College Board aligned with the updated exams that have been developed based on September through early March.  See College Board website  

Middle School and High School Students continue to receive Instruction through online learning.

  • Continuity of Instruction is moving forward with the instruction of course content and skills virtually. This means assigning and assessing the learning of compressed, prioritized curriculum through electronic means.
  • Students are expected to log on using their school-supplied device(if applicable) to engage in and complete assignments.  Devices have been deployed to students along with hotspots in cases where no internet access is available.  
  • Students without a school-supplied device will continue to use packets of materials and continue to be supported by teachers.

Career and Technical Education, Career Studies, New Visions

  • CTE, CS, and NV course content has been delivered through Google Classroom and virtual meetings occurring through Google Meet.  In the rare instances where the student is without a device and/or internet access, special arrangements have been made to ensure connectivity or in rare cases, paper packets have been delivered and received in students’ homes. Program principals have helped to coordinate these efforts when necessary.
  • CTE, CS, and NV course content is being prioritized based upon essential knowledge and skills (what a student MUST know and be able to do) This has been the focus of instruction and helps to build toward completion of the CTE program (year 1 or year 2). (CTE hands on resources can be found here.)
  • In those environments where Google Classroom is being used, teachers are also making phone contact with students and/or families when a student is not logging into Google Classroom (or equivalent platform), participating in Google Meet sessions, or completing assigned work on a consistent basis.
  • CTE, CS, and NV student work continues to be graded.  We are not assigning busy work but rather, we are measuring what a student has learned in this new format for learning.  We are taking this into consideration when grading work and provide consideration for these special circumstances. 

Grading and Regents

Quarter 3 Grades (K-12) & CTE

3rd Quarter Grades

  • 3rd Quarter ended April 8th. 
    • Work assigned prior to 3/17 but not yet entered into the gradebook was still entered as 3rd quarter grades.
    • If students did not complete or hand in assignments due to absences during the period of time between March 10th -17th, they were not penalized with 0’s.
  • Students who had a failing grade as of March 17th received an Incomplete with encouragement to complete by April 24th.  However, INC. grade still stands and work to improve Quarter 3 will still be accepted. 

Below are three examples that we anticipated students might fall into.  This is not an all encompassing list and you are welcome to discuss specific circumstances with your child’s teacher or principal. 

  • Example 1: Passing grade prior to March 17th and completing most work during closure
    • Outcome: Passing Quarter 3 Ex. Students had grade of 72% as of 3/17 and improved grade to 80% based upon completed work.
  • Example 2: Failing course grade prior to March 17th but completing most work during closure
    • Outcome: Passing Quarter 3 (with encouragement to complete assignments by April 8th) Ex. Student had 59% as of 3/17 and improved grade to 71% based upon completed work.
  • Example 3: Failing course grade prior to March 17th and not completing any work during closure
    • Outcome: Incomplete Quarter 3 (with encouragement to complete assignments by April 24th) Ex. Student had 58% as of 3/17, would receive an INC. Student should still work to complete missing work.

Quarter 4 and Final Grades (K-12) & CTE

4th Quarter Grades

In recognition of the variation in resources and support available to students and family support, traditional grading practices are not being used. 

We have worked to ensure that grading occurs only in those classes/courses in which all students being graded have had equitable access.

  • During the 4th quarter as we moved to a formal flipped learning program, current grading policies will remain in effect at teacher discretion and with flexibility. For example: A student would not earn a “0” because she/he didn’t turn in his weekly at home fitness log for PE class. 
  • Teachers are continuing to grade student work during the 4th quarter, providing  students and parents feedback on the work submitted but have been flexible and relaxed expectations and have continually erred on the side of students.

Teachers will use varied forms of assessment/assignments to measure and document evidence of student learning.  

Fourth Quarter Progress Reports will be coming out as originally scheduled within the next two weeks based upon original dates set by each program.

Students should be reminded:

  • Although the buildings are closed, school is still happening!
  • Continue to work hard as classroom participation and work completion does matter and will count toward a final passing average.
  • The work your teachers are assigning is important and should be completed on time as much as possible.
  • Your submitted work is still being graded. 

Keep up the hard work!

K-12 Grading

The final determination of how Questar III will provide final grades and credit to students has not yet been determined as it relies upon guidance that has not yet been shared at the state level.  The provision of grades for students and awarding of course credit must be aligned with guidance from NYSED and our own BOCES-wide and program specific policies.  

We expect that a final decision on 4th Quarter grades and Final grades will be made within the next two weeks and will share updated communication with parents and students. 

Regents Examinations Cancellation:

  • The June 2020 administration of Regents exams has been cancelled. Decision on August Regents has not yet been made.  
  • Students who earn a passing grade in a current course ending in a Regents exam will be exempt from taking the exam and the requirement to pass the exam as a diploma requirement.
  • Students who do not earn a passing grade in the course ending in a Regents exam will need to make up the course to earn credit.
  • Students previously enrolled in a course leading to an applicable Regents examination who achieved course credit, but have not yet passed the associated
  • Regents examination and intended to take the test in June 2020 to achieve a passing score will be exempted from the exam and the requirement to pass the exam as a diploma requirement.
  • Exemptions will count towards students’ diploma designation (Regents, Advanced Regents, etc.)
  • Students in LOTE (Language other than English) classes that have received passing credits in the language class will be exempted from their checkpoint B exam and the requirement to pass this exam for diploma requirements.
  • Our staff continue to work with home districts to identify those students who are eligible for an exemption.

K-12 Instructional Resources

Questar III BOCES:

New York State Education Department

Association for Career & Technical Education

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