Schools in Montezuma County have faced a balancing act to make sure students remain on track while adjusting to online classrooms.
Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 has released a “pass” or “not yet” grading system, and Dolores and Mancos schools are solidifying grading processes.
Lis Richard, superintendent of the Dolores School District Re-4A, said the situation will vary by student.
“We have engaged students and non-engaged students, so we will need to approach the grading piece carefully,” she told The Journal.
Mancos administrators and staff are working on the details but have emphasized at board meetings that students’ social-emotional well-being is a top priority.
The Cortez district detailed its plan in a letter posted on the district’s website.
“Throughout school closures, teachers will continue to provide students with instruction that is designed to build upon the learning trajectory already established in the classroom,” the letter states.
Many courses have changed formats, from science labs to cooking lessons.
“As with most places around the country, it’s been a challenge, but everybody’s adjusting to it,” Montezuma-Cortez High School Principal Eric Chandler told The Journal.
The plan for virtual learning, the online letter says, focuses on three guiding principles: continuous instruction, access for all students and connectedness to the community.
And the purpose of grading, it states, is to make sure students keep up with weekly lessons, monitor student progress, provide feedback to students and support struggling students.
All students are all expected to take part in weekly assignments through Google Classroom and other virtual platforms.
High school grades are entered into the online program PowerSchool, as they have been all year. Due dates are assigned to help keep students on track, but late work will be accepted without a penalty, the letter states.
“If a student was passing a course prior to the temporary online learning, semester grades will not drop below a D (a passing grade), and thus a student will continue to earn credit for the course,” the letter says. “Students who were failing before the temporary online learning, will have the opportunity to complete necessary work to earn credit for the course.”
Special consideration will be taken for students who face online access issues or other challenges outside their control, according to administrators.
Chandler said that although every institution is different, colleges have been supportive of the situation for prospective applicants or students.
“Everybody – including colleges – has been very good with extending deadlines and working around situations that weren’t there in the past, working around barriers that weren’t there in the past,” he said.
At Montezuma-Cortez Middle School, teachers are using a system of “pass” or “not yet,” Principal Kate Ott said in her own letter.
Teachers are inputting into PowerSchool one of three symbols: “collected, incomplete or missing.” “Collected” means students submitted their work and passed the standard, “incomplete” means submitted work must be improved and resubmitted for a grade, and “missing” means students did not submit the assignment.
Ott’s letter said teachers are expected to provide regular feedback to students to ensure everyone can receive a “pass” grade.
“The entire M-CMS faculty is committed and diligently working to meet your child’s academic and emotional news,” she wrote. “We know families are juggling a lot right now, and our M-CMS family wants to be there to support you as best we can.”