New Year, New Grading Policy: What Remained and What Changed


Ingrid Schmitz

French teacher Colleen Baldridge grades quizzes at her desk.

Ingrid Schmitz, Staff Writer

Chaotic and uncertain, 2020 was certainly a memorable year. There was a global pandemic, a presidential election and multiple grading policy changes, to name some of the biggest events 

With the new semester comes a new grading policythe fourth one of this school year. 

Some elements have stayed the same. Students still must complete 80% of their work to receive credit for a class. Teachers will also continue assigning students 1% for missing assignments through May 13.  

However, the new policy also has brought several major changes. 

For one, end of course (EOC) tests, which previously counted for 20% of students’ grades freshman and junior yearsare now weighted at 0.01% 

“State Superintendent Richard Woods — in the fall — asked the Department of Education to waive EOC’s and they said no,” said Principal Ashley Agans. “My understanding of the state superintendent’s feelings is that EOC’s are not a valuable use of student time and a valuable measure of what students really know. 

When the federal government said no, they decided they would give [the exams], but they would make them so that they were not detrimental to a student’s grade.” 

For non-EOC courses, the final exam will be worth 20% of a student’s grade. Students can exempt a final only if they complete all other assignments for that course. For EOC courses, the last summative can be exempted with the same rules. 

“The final exemption policy in the past was always tied to attendance,” Agans said. She said she wanted to discontinue this tradition because, due to the pandemic, she wants students to stay home if they are sick. 

“Final exemptions are supposed to be an incentive,” she said“Based off looking at incompletes from fall, the most important thing to incentivize was completing the work.”  

Furthermore, the Fulton County Board of Education changed the retake policy so that students can retake summative assessments up to a score of 79%. Last semester the cutoff was 89%.   

In December, the board also reinstated multiple levels of grading. There are now three categories of grades: summatives, formatives and homework. Last semester, only summatives were counted in the gradebook.  

“They felt there had been a lot of parents and students who reached out to the board asking for formatives to come back. Many students may not test well and they need that boost to their scores,” Agans said.  

Formatives and homework must be turned in before the unit summative. Work turned in afterwards will have a 20% late penalty. 

Agans said last semester it was easy for students to not complete formatives. When students don’t do their formatives, though, it leads to a harmful cycle of students not getting feedback and not knowing whether they have mastered the material, which leads to them not doing well on tests and having to do recovery. 

If students do the formatives, teachers “know what they need to remediate,” Agans said, and students will score higher on the summatives. 

Grading deadlines also have been put on teachers. Summatives must be graded within 10 school days, and formatives and homework must be graded within three school days. Additionally, formatives must be graded at least three school days before the unit summative. 

Agans said the reason behind giving teachers grading deadlines was because of “feedback from my student advisory council and feedback from the end of semester survey that students and parents completed.”  

According to the survey, many students felt they weren’t getting their grades back in time to do recovery or were unsure of what they didn’t know before taking summatives 

Students have strong opinions on the grading policy’s major differences. 

Freshman Emma Dewey is in favor of the new recovery policy. 

“It’s going to force us to study hard and learn the material the first time instead of relying on recovery like we could do last semester,” she said.  

Junior Nicolas Bartlone said he thinks this part of the policy is fair, more so than last semester’s policy. 

“I think last semester’s was way too lenient. 79 and below is even a little too lenient.” 

Bartlone likes that there are multiple grading categories again, too. 

“The main thing is, it gives me an incentive to do my formative work and homework in my classes. Last semester, I was really lazy. This semester, I have a choice. If it’s a class where I’m not going to get A’s on every test, it can help my grade,” he said. 

Dewey has mixed feelings about the new teacher grading deadlines. 

“From a teacher’s perspective, it makes it a lot harder for them and they already do so much for us. They can’t grade with as high a quality,” she said. “I understand why the deadlines are there and the purpose of them, but they can make it harder for them to grade the work and give good feedback.” 

One thing Dewey likes about the new policy is the increased accountability. 

“I think it will help to hold [students] more accountable because we have to finish everything to exempt the final,” Dewey said. 

Agans said she thinks this policy will be successful. 

“I think this grading policy, aside from the final exam exemption, pretty much mirrors what grading was prior to COVID, so I don’t anticipate any major issues with it,” she said.