Remote learning Phase 2 begins today, LISD grading shifts to pass/incomplete this spring semester

By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News

The Leander ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution regarding grading, GPA and class rank on March 31 in a special meeting held virtually. The board approved a pass or incomplete policy for this spring semester due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused Texas schools to be closed through May 4 to help combat the spread.

Prior to the vote and hour-long discussion, three people spoke up in the public comment portion of the meeting, it was the first time during an online LISD board meeting that public comment was taken remotely.  

Two parents and one student were against the new policy and wanted to see some form of grading that reflects classwork. Collectively they shared that the pass/incomplete designation penalizes students who work hard and allows those students who do not work hard, an easy way to get by. 

Board members brought up some concerns about the policy during the discussion. 

Jim McKay said “I don’t want to handicap our students, putting our students at a disadvantage” compared to other school districts because of this grading policy. 

“Some other districts will proceed differently on this,” he added. “I’m not sure I want to be first to market on a solution. Other districts may see this as an opportunity to put their students ahead of ours.”

Another board member, Aaron Johnson, asked what was driving the timing of making a decision on the grading policy. 

Bruce Gearing, LISD superintendent replied that the district is shifting to phase 2 of the remote learning strategy on April 6 and wanted to “make sure the clarity is out there for faculty, teachers, principals, and students.”

Gearing also pointed out that all eight high school principals, in addition to counselors and teacher leaders “felt like pass/incomplete was the most equitable and cut it (grading off) at the third six weeks to ensure equity.” 

“We feel this is the most fair way to do this… the only fair way to do this is to use the first semester calculation,” Gearing said.

The resolution that was approved on March 31 reads:

1. For high school seniors, class rank will not be calculated at the end of the fifth six week grading period as stated in the current Board Policy EIC (LOCAL). Rather, class rank will be calculated based on the semester average at the end of the third six-week grading period of the 2019-2020 school-year, which has already been calculated and reported;

2. For the spring semester of the 2019-2020 school-year all student grades will be recorded and reported as pass or incomplete and transcripts will denote a course credit as pass or incomplete;

3. GPA will be calculated based on the semester average at the end of the third six week grading period of the 2019-2020 school-year. This will be the final GPA for current seniors. It will also affect GPA calculations going forward for the class of 2021, 2022, and 2023 currently enrolled in the 2019-2020 school-year and any student transferring into Leander ISD to join the class of 2021, 2022, and 2023. Therefore, for example, a current freshman who completes high school within four years will have a total GPA calculated on 7 semesters, rather than 8 semesters.