Teachers in Washington can give letter grades, but no Fs amid pandemic

Washington state officials have released new instructions for how school districts should evaluate more than a million students amid school shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The guidance directs districts to provide a letter grade such as A, B or C or an “incomplete” to students in grades 9-12, The Olympian reported. No student will receive a “pass,” “fail” or “no credit” grade for any course and Fs are not an option.

“Fs will not be allowed — there will be no failures this term,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal said in a media conference on Wednesday.

Deploying a pass/fail grading system is not an option due to concerns that it is not equitable and does not guarantee students will receive future credit, including college or scholarships, according to Reykdal.

If students earn an “incomplete,” they will be given opportunities by districts to make up the credit through summer school, courses in the following term or year, independent study, competency-based courses or online courses.

Reykdal anticipates there won’t be many “incomplete” grades for seniors as districts work to ensure they graduate.

The state also will provide a COVID-19 designation on student transcripts for classes taken during the closure so colleges are aware of the “unique environment in which the course was taken,” according to the guidance.

The changes mostly lie with grades 9-12. Middle and elementary school grading largely will remain the same, Reykdal said, since they are either not issued letter grades or those grades do not impact high school crediting-bearing courses.

K-8 students will “move on to the next grade, unless by agreement between parents/guardians and teachers they agree to repeat a grade or a portion of learning missed,” according to the guidance.