NYC Parents Want “No Harm” Grading for Remote Learning

Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education (PLACE NYC) conducted a survey of New York City public school parents on the not-yet-decided grading policy due to school closure and remote learning.  The number one choice with 42.5% of votes was the “No Harm” policy—i.e., parents want schools to keep grading consistent during the remote learning period and the final grade of the year based on dropping the lowest grade of the 3 marking periods.

The “No Change” policy and “Grade Freeze” policy were essentially tied for second place with 22.4% and 21.4% of votes, respectively. It was notable that parents who have kids applying for schools in the fall preferred “No Change” (27.5%) over “Grade Freeze” (15.3%) but it was the reverse for parents who have kids not applying for schools in the fall (“No Change” 18.1% and “Grade Freeze” 26.8%). The “Grade Freeze” policy consists of pass/fail grade for the remote learning period with final numeric grade taken from grades earned before remote learning. The “School Decides” policy received 13.6% of votes; one parent wrote, “I am actually ok with school deciding the grading policy because I trust my principal.”  

Overwhelmingly 86% of parents surveyed wanted the 118 days of school prior to closures to count towards the final grade. Another parent commented: “Final grades should incorporate effort prior to remote learning”.

While there are many families still waiting for remote learning devices from the DOE, many NYC parents with kids actively engaged in remote learning have been asking the DOE for clarity on grading with the end of the school year just 10 weeks away. The DOE and UFT said they are soliciting parent input.  PLACE NYC, with a network of over 700 highly engaged parents throughout NYC, received nearly 300 responses in 24-hours.

The parent leaders of PLACE NYC concur with the sentiment of one parent who wrote “The “No Harm” [policy] seems to be the fairest.” The “No Harm” grading policy helps all students. It does not penalize them for hardships under remote learning nor does it discount the work they continue to do. Parents who chose “No Harm” acknowledged the challenges of remote learning for both the student and teacher that has aggravated access and home life disparities for many public school families. Parents praised the outstanding efforts to transition to remote instruction and engagement happening across many schools, and emphasized that the work of these students and their teachers should be valued and not written off. One parent wrote: “[We] must keep students and parents engaged and motivated, and recognize students who have put in effort without punishing kids who are now struggling because of [the] new situation.”