California high school students who are studying in the largest districts of schools will not be awarded a grade D or F for their poor work. Instead, they will be permitted to take the test or do the work again.

This new system was created in response to the pandemic. Supporters argue that it lowers stress for students already traumatized or unresolved.

The proposal is said to be especially beneficial for black, Latino, and low-income students. These groups have statistically been more affected by changes in school routines due to pandemics.

It is criticised for reducing education and leaving students unable to deal with harsh modern realities.

Ed Source first published the scheme at the start of January.

A student is seen on March 24 taking her exam at St Anthony Catholic High School in Long Beach, California. Several California school districts have now decided to get rid of D and F grades

One student takes her exam at St Anthony Catholic high school in Long Beach on March 24, 2015. California school districts are now removing D and F grades.

Devin Vodicka, a former superintendent of Vista Unified in San Diego County and chief executive of the Learner-Centered Collaborative, supports getting rid of the D and F grades

Nidya Baez, assistant principal at Fremont High in Oakland Unified, has welcomed the new plans

Devin Vodicka (chief executive of Learning-Centered Collaborative), and Nidya Bez, assistant principal, Fremont High School in Oakland Unified, both supported the plan to eliminate D and F grades.

According to the website, Santa Ana, Los Angeles Unified School District, Oakland Unified School District, Sacramento City Unified School District, and Sacramento City Unified are some of the schools that have been testing the new marking system.

Nidya Bez, assistant principal of Fremont High School in Oakland Unified stated, “Our goal is for students to begin to view school as a space of learning where they can take chances and learn from them mistakes.”

According to her, “Right now we have a system in which we award a million points per million sheets of paper that students turn into, with little attention paid to the actual learning.”

This new system is called competency-based learning.

Devin Vodicka is a former superintendent at Vista Unified, San Diego County, and the chief executive officer of the Learner-Centered Collaborative. He told Ed Source the new system prepared students for the rest of the world.

Vodicka explained that we need to create a system which goes beyond the institution model and gives students more relevant feedback.

The future requires less time, more effort on our contributions and quality performance. It is important to train our students in this.

Students in Sacramento School District are seen in class. Sacramento is among those to get rid of classic grading systems

Sacramento School District students can be seen in class. Sacramento is one of those areas that has eliminated the old grading system

Patricia Russell of Mastery Transcript Consortium said another supporter that over 400 schools have joined the organization which encourages alternative grades.

Patricia Russell's organization supports school districts that want to move away from traditional grading systems

Patricia Russell’s foundation supports school districts looking to change from traditional grading systems.

Russell stated, “We are talking about very young people, and labeling them so early as ‘less’ or ’more than’ could have serious psychological repercussions.”

“Some things in life can be zero-sum, but learning should never be.”

Laura Schwalm is the chief of staff for California Education Partners. She said she hopes that students will be able to see beyond their current horizons with this scheme.

“Graduating in Career and Technology Courses with a D also leaves students with limited options,” she stated.

No one is trying to water down grades. It is all about supporting students, not decreasing standards. We are looking at simple ways that grading can be made more equitable to ensure kids have a chance to succeed and measure the knowledge of their peers with multiple chances to prove it.

Ed Source reports that many teachers admit to not giving D and/or F grades often, but others use the low marks as tools.

Debora Rinehart, a math and science teacher at St. Theresa School in Oakland, said that the new system was akin to 'lying' to students about their achievements

Debora Rinehart is a science and math teacher at St. Theresa School, Oakland. She said the new system was similar to lying to students about their accomplishments

Debora Rinehart was a math- and science teacher at St. Theresa School. It is a Catholic school located in Oakland.

“I am willing to work with students before, after and on weekends in order to assist them learning,” she said. She said that she would never lie about the students’ knowledge.

“Not reporting Ds or Fs is equivalent to lying about student progress.”

In December 2020, San Diego Unified Schools District revealed that it had adopted the policy. It is intended to give students multiple chances to prove their mastery. Nicole DeWitt was the instructional support officer of the district.

DeWitt stated that they have been reassessing the practices of grading from 2018, but the pandemic made it more urgent.

The board of San Diego found in 2020 that students of color received Ds or Fs 20% of the total time while students of Hispanic descent received them 23 percent. That compares to 7% for students of other races and 6% for Asian students.

Following a July 2020 school board workshop, DeWitt stated that a resolution was passed requesting the district to “revise its grading policy in order to ensure we have equitable grade practices.” The new scheme went into effect in.

New York City adopted a similar policy. The Department of Education announced in October 2020, that no student will receive failing grades for the 2020-21 school years.

They are marked now ‘N’ to indicate that they need improvement.

From grade 8 onwards, schools could keep their traditional letter grades or follow the new city grading policy.

“This year’s Grading Policy maintains high standards for student achievement, keeps our students engaged, while being responsive to our families’ needs in the ongoing pandemic,” said Danielle Filson at that time, spokesperson for DOE.

“Schools will pick a grading system that is appropriate for their students, and which has high standards.

In October, another school in Minnesota did the same.

Sunrise Park Middle School, White Bear Lake, released a YouTube clip detailing their new grading system. It said that it helps to fight systemic racism.

A score of above 92.5 percent is considered an A, while an I ranges from 50 to 59.49%. However, below this, an I will not be given. 

Norman Bell, Associate Principal, stated that students have 10 days to revise and retake tests, papers and quizzes after receiving their grade.  

Also, grades will not change based on behavior, attitude, tardiness or whether an assignment was submitted late or early.