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Santa Maria Joint Union High School District implements new grading policy

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Posted at 6:14 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 23:24:47-05

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District has adopted a new grading policy.

While it may relieve stress for some students, others say it's not enough.

"You know, it is nice but we definitely don't think that this is enough. We think that the district needs to take bolder actions,” said Angel Lopez, Future Leaders of America Youth Organizer.

Lopez adds that although they appreciate the effort the SMJUHSD put forth, a systematic change during distance learning would have been more effective for students who've been struggling with course work.

The new policy focuses on three things:

  1. Application of second-semester grades to the first semester
  2. Permitting graduation with the minimum state credit requirements on a case-by-case basis
  3. The use of "incomplete" or "no-mark" options

Lopez, along with some students in the district, believes the extra step of being able to drop the letter grade "F" should have been included, a similar approach neighboring districts including Santa Barbara and Oxnard have put into place.

“When they were presented that there were high failing rates in their districts, they took a systematic approach on dealing with the high numbers of failing, right? So we believe the district should do that,” Lopez said.

During last week's board meeting, members presented a survey showing the percentage of teachers dropping letter grades and 58% of them said they disliked the idea of eliminating F's, 37% said they would be OK with it, and 5% said they have implemented this already.

"We believe these proposals will help, we believe these proposals can help motivate students to push themselves while also offering hope that they can overcome difficulties or even poor grades,” SMJUHSD Assistant Superintendent John Davis said at Thursday's board meeting.

"You know, it goes back to, the student has the motivation to succeed but there's a lot of obstacles that are being put in their way and the school district, both teachers and school district, should have considered when it comes to the grading policy and not punish these students for the situations they find themselves in,” Lopez said.

In the meeting, some board members did request to discuss the option of possibly eliminating F's in the future.