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Baltimore City schools will not hold back failing students

Students will no longer receive failing grades
empty classroom
Posted at 9:00 AM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 09:05:28-04

BALTIMORE, Md. — Many students struggled with their studies during the pandemic as they sat home in front of a laptop instead inside a classroom.

Baltimore City Public School administrators said they won't make failing students repeat their grade levels.

While students will be allowed to move onto their next grade level, they will notice a few changes to the grading system on their next report cards.

Tuesday night's school board meeting was held digitally, just like much of the school year itself.

Baltimore Schools superintendent Dr. Sonya Santalises said the approach they're taking is not one focusing on failure but making it about unfinished learning and giving students multiple opportunities to finish their education.

The process will come with some adjustments.

The grading system will remain the same for grade levels Pre-K and one.

However, starting with grades two through five, they're going to replace the grade “U” which stands for “unsatisfactory” with “not completed” or “NC.”

In grade levels six through eight, the letter grade “F,” which stands for “fail,” will be replaced by an “NC” for “not complete.”

Students in grades nine through 12, who receive failing marks also will no longer receive an “F.” Instead, they will receive an “NC,” for “no credit.”

Baltimore City Public Schools chief academic officer Joan Dabrowski said "students who receive an “NC” on the report card will still be able to continue to the next grade level. We say this though with an intentional space of recognizing that there will be students moving forward with unfinished learning and we are committing as part of our reconnect, restore, and reimagine plan, to have clear strategies and support systems in place for any student who is receiving an ’NC.’”

Santelises said “I want to encourage families to ask questions at any point in this process to ensure that you understand how your students needs are being met. We will have ongoing discussions about acceleration about what this means with regards to an expanded band of time off for young people to be able to finish their learning."

These grade changes are being made with the hope that teachers will be able to help students fill in the gaps in their education when they return to school this summer or fall.