FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 directors voted Tuesday evening to make a temporary change to grading and graduation requirement policies due to extended distance learning.

Teachers will continue providing educational opportunities. They will give feedback to students but not grade any work assigned after March 13.

The Curriculum Committee weighed several options, including grading as normal, grading without penalty from March 13 to the end of the year, and grading by pass/fail.

Those options are not fair because students have varied resources at home, Director of Curriculum Laura Columbia said. Not all students have internet access, some may not have a support system at home, others may need to watch siblings while their parents work and some students may be essential workers.

“In each of these options, it is clear those students who do not have those resources will be less successful than those that do. With all of these variables, we see that there is no way to equitably grade our students, without having long-negative impacts on a student’s transcript or permanent record,” she said.

Superintendent Tina Meserve said the committee decisions were in line with the Maine Department of Education recommendation.

“The recommendation is there should be an educational process but no retribution during the coronavirus,” she said.

For students in grades six to 12, assignments will be tracked in PowerSchool so parents can see how their children are progressing. Teachers will provide feedback and mark the assignment as collected, missing or exempt when appropriate.

In most cases, each student who was on a path to earn a diploma or earn credit will have every opportunity to do so, Columbia said.

The state minimum graduation requirements will be used as a threshold for graduation. Seniors will need to earn 20 credits to graduate rather than the 24 credits typically required.

“There will be an opportunity for nearly every senior to pass and receive credit for each of their classes,” she said.

Columbia said she had a high degree of confidence transcripts would be accepted at colleges.

“Everyone is in the same situation,” she said. “This isn’t just here. It is all over the world.”

Students in prekindergarten to five who were on track for promotion to the next grade level will be promoted. Principals and teachers will be in contact with students who might need additional support, she said.

“I just want to voice my support for this proposal,” said student representative Riley Drummond, a senior at Mt. Blue High School. “It is important to understand that we are all coming from different circumstances.”

In other matters, the 2020-21 budget vote will be delayed until July 14, Finance Committee Chairman Irving Faunce said. The draft budget is being developed by the Budget Committee and will be presented to the board at the next meeting.

“This means the district will go into the next fiscal year with the same budget as fiscal year 2020,” he said.


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