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Administration asks teachers to rethink giving ‘No Credit’ progress report grades


Following progress report submissions on May 6, Principal Adam Paulson asked teachers to reconsider giving a “No Credit” grade to students.

In late March, Superintendent Don Austin announced that all PAUSD secondary students would transition to credit/no credit grading for their second semester classes. As a result, all progress reports submitted by teachers contained no letter grades. Instead students earned “Credit” or “No Credit” based on whether they completed their Required Online Learning Experiences.

In an email sent to all teachers on May 7, Paulson asked teachers to reevaluate any “No Credit” marks. The progress report submission window was consequently reopened and teachers had until noon on May 7 to make any changes from “No Credit” to “Credit” they deemed necessary. 

The email did not provide teachers with any strict criteria regarding what “Credit” or “No Credit” looks like.

“At this time we are looking for evidence of developing proficiency on the identified essential outcomes rather than behavioral compliance with regard to the completion of all tasks in the weekly ROLEs,” Paulson wrote to teachers in the email. “‘No Credit’ implies that you do not believe that a student is developing proficiency, and have never witnessed in any way that the student is developing proficiency.”

According to Physical Education teacher Doyle Knight, his students will receive a “No Credit” if they fail to turn in their ROLEs, but many teachers are making the effort to reach out to students who may be feeling overwhelmed. 

“We are trying to be equal to all students and take into consideration their situations at home,” Knight said in an email. “So we, the teachers, are basically following up with the students who received a ‘No Credit’ to make sure they are OK and can get the work in.”

Paulson said the progress report window was reopened to give teachers a chance to reconsider the credit/no credit distinction.

“We saw a disproportionate amount of (No Credit) grades district wide and wanted to make sure we were all aligned around the (Credit/No Credit) rubric and also considering the challenges that many students are having,” Paulson said. 

Going forward, Paulson said in his email that staff will need to direct most of their attention to giving more mental, emotional and academic support to students who did not receive credit. 

Paulson also asked teachers, in his email, to reconsider using “No Credit” entries as a motivator or measure to hold students accountable. 

“This approach may be counterproductive and have potentially very negative effects on our students’ self-efficacy as they adjust to this new learning environment,” Paulson wrote.

While the guidance center was not involved in the decision to reopen the progress report window, guidance counselor James Hamilton said he supports a credit/no credit grading system. 

Hamilton said, “We are dealing with unprecedented circumstances that will have unknown impacts on people, so ratcheting down the pressure and rigor makes a lot of sense to me.” 

This story has been updated to include Principal Adam Paulson’s response.

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