They’re flattening the grade curve.
San Francisco school officials are pushing to assign all students “A” grades this year to help ease their coronavirus-related traumas.
“We’re in a pandemic, people,” said board member Alison Collins during a Wednesday Zoom meeting. “People are dying. This is not the time for us to be acting normally.”
The board argued that students are deserving of some academic consideration after having their school year upended by the contagion.
Susan Solomon, a teachers union representative, said city educators endorsed the idea.
“We would be in support of giving students A’s,” she said. “We are very determined that this should be about doing no harm to our students.”
Formerly helmed by current New York City schools chief Richard Carranza, the San Francisco school system enrolls roughly 55,000 students.
As of Thursday morning, the city had 1,013 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths.
Board president and teacher Mark Sanchez initially offered an alternate plan that would let students assign themselves grades.
“I’d like to give them some power and let them decide,” he said. “If a student thinks that they would earn an A they should assign themselves an A. If it’s a B it’s a B or a C or a D. We should trust them to make the right judgement.”
But Collins cast that system as needlessly draconian, arguing that kids with mediocre academic histories might feel compelled to assign themselves a corresponding grade.
“The problem is that if I’m a student and I’m not going to class at all and I’m feeling guilty that I’m not doing that because I feel like I should be, I might be more likely to give myself a lower grade,” she reasoned. “Honestly, I believe we should do a straight across the board system. Everyone should have the same thing apply.”
Superintendent Vincent Mathews voiced some reservations about the plan, noting that the creation of blanket perfection would likely run into some resistance.
“We definitely will hear from parents and from teachers because it basically begins to recreate – if every student knows they’re going to get an A, for many learning becomes optional,” he said.
Mathews also noted that detaching grades from classroom performance could complicate college applications for district kids.
The University of California system had mandated that they will only accept traditional A through F or pass or fail grading systems.
But Collins said that the district should now bow to collegiate resistance given the extraordinary circumstances created by the coronavirus.
“If they can’t deal with that, you guys are heartless,” she said.
Collins argued that the choppy transition to remote learning has already made it impossible to ensure grading consistency and legitimacy across schools.
Kids with more resources, board members argued, are better positioned to benefit from distance learning.
“These are conversations we should be having anyway,” she said. “What are grades worth anyway? They don’t make kids work harder, they don’t really give feedback.”
The board will formally vote on the plan next week after further assessing its viability and impact on college admissions.