Teachers react to new ‘grade freeze’ policy


The infographic represents a play on words as the Board of Education voted on freezing grades and shown above are letter grades freezing. The images was created using Piktochart. (Mauricio Pliego / Ethic News)

The Redlands Unified School Board voted on April 13 to reopen school sites with a new hybrid schedule, giving families the option for their children to remain on distance learning or return to campus and requiring teachers to teach both groups simultaneously from campus. To accommodate this transition, the Board also voted on “freezing grades” to make the transition easier for students.

According to the new grade freeze policy, a student’s end-of-semester grade in each class may not drop below the grade that they had prior to April 19, when schools shifted to the new hybrid schedule.

Teachers from different departments at Redlands East Valley High School had a variety of reactions, with many making changes in their grading to adapt to this new policy.

The English Department is co-headed by Eva Shinnerl, who is currently teaching Advanced Placement English Language classes, Composition and English 101. She has taught at Redlands East Valley for over twenty years.

Shinnerl says, “In my classes, all assignments are now worth the same amount as before in Google Classroom, but they go into Aeries as extra credit.”

Shinnerl states that she listened to her students’ feedback during her decision-making process and as a result, grades will go “as high as possible.”

Shinnerl also teaches Dual Enrollment English classes at Crafton Hills College and says, “Those grades are not frozen because it’s not technically an RUSD class.”

While this is how Shinnerl is adapting to the new grading policy, each teacher within the department was able to follow their own grading format.

Doug Porter is the Math Department Chair and has taught mathematics since 2002. He is the current AP Statistics and Math One Honors teacher.

Porter says, “The REV Math Department has no official grading policy for the remainder of the 2020-21 year,” and that they have “agreed to use our professional and personal judgment to do what is best for the students and to maximize student learning/engagement over the next few weeks.”

English Teacher Eva Shinnerl teaches class during the Coronavirus Pandemic at Redlands East Valley High School. The new hybrid schedule requires that teachers simultaneously interact with In-person students and distance learning students via zoom. (Mauricio Pliego / Ethic News) 

In his classes, Porter gave the semester final exam before April 19, almost two months before the official end of the school year.

Porter explains, “That final exam score is now slowly being replaced through each assignment from now until the end of the semester.”

Porter says he guarantees that every student who participates will gain a much higher score on the final exam.

The World Language Department is composed of Spanish, French and Latin classes, headed by Spanish teachers Susan Johnston and Michael Celano. Each has implemented their grading system and made sure each teacher within the department did the same.

Johnston said, “Personally, I am allowing students to improve their grades by five percent if they complete all work assigned during the hybrid learning.”

Andrea Johnson-Bernardy is the current head of the Physical Education Department and explained that teachers had implemented a similar system. They all agreed to provide online work for those on distance learning and also have in-person activities such as walking and playing games with little contact. Some teachers decided to give extra credit as an option, and each teacher determined the requirements for the extra credit.

Porter is letting the different sets of students know how each class will work on the day’s assignment on the whiteboard. (Mauricio Pliego / Ethic News)

Fine Arts Department Chair Tracy Massimiano explained that each class had to have different systems due to a variety of concerns.

The Ceramics teacher, George Bressant, is planning to “do some fun projects in class and take advantage of the small class sizes.”

Kelly Tilson, a Digital Art Teacher, says, “This is an opportunity to gain knowledge and not fear anything”.

Electives such as the Advancement Via Individual Determination program have also made tough choices based on the board’s choice on freezing grades. As a result,

Jana Bailey, the AVID coordinator, says “Our team agreed that because our curriculum builds on each other every year and we don’t want our students to get behind, there were certain assignments that had to count between now and the end of this year. As a result, we entered those assignments right away.”

The required assignments for AVID include personal statements, tutorials and scholarship essays. 

According to Bailey, AVID students understand the reason for the assignments being required and the value of completing them.

Bailey says, “They have seen the success of our seniors, earning 100 percent college acceptance rates from UCLA, Berkeley, Irvine, San Diego, CSU Long Beach and others. They know that the extra effort is worth it.”

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