Guidance on Grading/Crediting Policies During COVID-19

Challenge Success, Crescendo Education Group, and Mastery Transcript Consortium offer joint guidance to educators, families, and policymakers.

We know that families are striving to balance childcare, remote student learning, and work responsibilities while navigating the stress of COVID-19, including caring for those stricken with the virus; and some face food, housing, and job insecurity as well. Every home learning environment is unique, and each student’s resources and access to support varies. Teachers are doing their best to balance their own home responsibilities and pressures while learning new technology and preparing remote lessons.

Given the current varying needs and environments of students, families, and educators, it seems improbable that the teaching and learning that takes place during the next several weeks will be comparable to the education that students experience during the typical school year.

In support of student well-being and equity, we recommend that schools across the United States:

  • Shift all grading to Credit/Incomplete or No Record for work done during this time of remote learning:
    • Reassure families that COVID-19 has altered learning environments for almost all students; institutions that have traditionally relied on grades will not disadvantage students as a result (colleges, graduate programs, NCAA, merit grants, among others).
    • Allow students to complete work during the summer or at a later date as needed.
    • Offer to remove a course (leaving no record) from the transcript if students are unable to complete coursework within extended time frames.
  • Communicate to students and staff that fostering a climate of care and connection is a critical protective factor for students and should be the highest priority.
  • To the fullest extent possible, ensure equal access and support for technology and other tools to meet curriculum requirements and support student learning at home.
  • Provide clear guidelines for teachers and students that less is more: a reduced load will lower stress and anxiety at this time and may lead to higher student engagement and an opportune time for teachers to reflect upon learning goals and competencies.

Our organizations believe that mastery learning and meaningful educational experiences can happen everywhere—in a range of contexts including outside the four walls of a classroom, in online and/or blended learning environments, as well as through developing agency and building resilience during a pandemic. We encourage educators, families, and policymakers to broaden their definition of learning and honor all student growth and development. Together we can ensure that grading/crediting policies reflect these shared principles, in a unified effort to support our nation’s students during this extraordinary time.

Three research-based educational organizations founded on principles of student-centered learning, well-being, and equity offer these recommendations to policymakers and school/district leaders looking for expert guidance on whether, and how, to grade students during this very unique time.