FCPS changes grading policy to help struggling students


Lizzie Stone

Less class time led to FCPS lowering the number of required assignments per quarter from nine to six.

Lizzie Stone, Staff Writer

In response to dropping grades, FCPS adopted new grading policies. According to WTOP, the number of F’s had increased compared to the same time last year, from 6% of student grades across FCPS to 11%. 

The new plan lowered the number of required assignments per quarter from nine to six. Any single assignment or assessment can no longer be worth more than 20% of a student’s grade. Any assignment not turned in will be marked with a score of 50% instead of 0% so that students will be less impacted by missing an assignment. 

“I do think it’s helpful for some students who are drowning in work and have other things going on at home so maybe one assignment slips through the cracks and they just can’t get it done,” English teacher Laura Shackford said. “But for the students who have multiple, it’s not changing anything. It’s still a failing grade.”

Teachers have had to face the challenges that come with virtual school alongside their students. Eduweek reports that teachers working entirely online deal with more absent students and uncompleted work. Classes are moving slower than in previous years, with only 20% of remote and hybrid teachers covering content at their usual pace.

“Learning in a virtual environment is about making changes in the behavior of how we learn and teach. What we need most is time and not more stuff to do in the time we have,” science teacher Shaundra Riggleman said.

One solution offered by FCPS was their recent changes to the county late work policy. Major assignments must be accepted through the end of the quarter with a 10% penalty for being late, allowing students who fall behind a chance at bringing their grades back up.

“There are so many factors a student must face in their home environment that are removed in their school environment. The difference matters and my students are faced with so much more responsibility than in past years,” Riggleman said. “I am so grateful my students are now engaged more in their learning and working on making up missing work or correcting past assignments.”

The challenges students face this year are a widespread problem as they all try to adapt to virtual learning. According to the Washington Post school districts across the country are experiencing dramatically lower grades. The article points out that despite most school systems switching to a pass/fail system last spring, the A-F grading scale was brought back for most students even though virtual learning continues to present the same problems. 

”Virtual school has been difficult for me,” junior Julia Rodrigues said. “I’m glad FCPS is trying to do something to help me and other students.”