News

Teachers react to the new ‘grade freezing’

By MAURICIO PLIEGO

Within the last days of March, the Redlands Unified School District decided to open the school sites for the students through a vote made by the Board of Education. They opened and gave the choice to the parents to allow their students to stay at home and continue their education through distance learning or to go to in-person learning through a new, hybrid schedule. The Board of Education recently voted on “freezing grades” to supposedly make the transition easier for students. Teachers from different departments at Redlands East Valley had a variety of reactions and changes in their grading.

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, which has led her to gain lots of experience. 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.” She goes on to explain how she listened to her students and so they 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.” It is important to mention that this is her system and each teacher within the department was able to follow their own grading format.

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

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

Shinnerl teaching class during the Coronavirus Pandemic with In-person Students and Distance Learning students on the computer. (Mauricio Pliego / Ethic News) 

Within his classes, he gave the Final Exam before April 19. Porter explains, “That final exam score is now slowly being replaced through each assignment from now until the end of the semester.” He does guarantee 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. Each has different teachers with many years of experience, but it is all headed by 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 she had 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 but for distinct reasons.

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, or AVID, 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.” This includes personal statements, tutorials and scholarship essays. 

Bailey explains that their students understand and have seen the importance of their actions. She 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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