D202/D65 students, parents adapt to remote learning grading policies


Illustration by Carly Schulman

Evanston Township High School District 202 and Evanston/Skokie District 65 announced flexible grading policies for remote instruction. While some students and parents say the policies allow students to more effectively manage homework, others say they miss in-person instruction.

Anika Mittu, Reporter

Despite sometimes waking up unmotivated, Evanston Township High School sophomore Emma Boczkowski said she has maintained nearly straight A’s this quarter. She credits her academic performance to the school’s grading policies for remote learning.

“(The policies) have been really helpful, taking a lot of weight off my shoulders,” Boczkowski said. “Third quarter, I was overwhelmed with school work and my grades weren’t the best, but this quarter I have mostly 100 percents in my classes because it’s easy to get better grades.”

ETHS announced e-learning would replace in-person instruction for the rest of the semester on April 20, per Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s mandate to extend remote learning across Illinois through the end of the school year. To accommodate a range of home situations, Pete Bavis, Evanston Township High School District 202’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, notified families that students who perform at a passing level in a given class will receive a spring semester grade one letter grade higher than their third quarter grade in that class. According to Bavis, a passing grade is a D or above.

Students who receive an F or who do not engage at all with an online class will receive an incomplete for fourth quarter. While an incomplete won’t impact students’ GPAs, it will show up on their transcripts if they didn’t receive a passing grade in the class third quarter.

ETHS junior Najiah Osborne-Francellno said her experience with anxiety caused her third quarter grades to drop. Since she transitioned to learning from home and ETHS established its new grading guidelines, Osbonrne-Francellno said she’s been able to focus on performing well.

However, Osborne-Francellno said her peers who have auditory and visual learning styles could be struggling to learn in some online classes, where teachers deliver mostly written instruction.

Boczkowski’s mother, Irina Konstantinovsky, said she wishes the school offered more video instruction, but that she knows some students lack strong Internet access.

District 65 schools have also altered grading policies to accommodate online learning, announcing May 7 that elementary and middle school students will receive pass/incomplete grades.

Lani Wegrzyn, parent to a second grader at Willard Elementary School, said she worries the school can’t measure student learning accurately without in-person interaction and that she doesn’t understand how schools can confidently promote students to the next grade level.

“I dont think they’re completing a second grade experience,” Wegzrn said. “Some kids will fall further and further behind.”

Some parents, like Erin Nugent, are supplementing online school by working with their kids one-on-one. Nugent is the mother of a third grader at Washington Elementary and a sixth grader at Nichols Middle School.

Nugent’s son has various learning disabilities, and her daughter has anxiety. Though she studied special education in college and currently teaches at a private preschool, she said her children behave differently with their family than they do with their classroom teachers, so it’s difficult for Nugent to recreate the school environment at home.

Still, Nugent said she’s grateful for D65 administrators like Washington principal Katharine Ellison, who emailed parents saying the school will meet each child at their specific academic needs when in-person instruction resumes.

“That’s been super helpful to me,” Nugent said. “I’m really trying to get my kids academically where they’re supposed to be, but there are educators in District 65 who are aware there are other things going on during this virus that are affecting families.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @anika_mittu

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