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By Tim Hunt

How are D students going to learn what they missed this year?

Uploaded: Mar 2, 2021

Pleasanton school trustees last week expanded grading criteria for the spring semester to allow more students to receive credit for their Zoom classes.
Instead of the pass/fail grades given in the fall semester, the district will return to letter grades, but to receive an F, students will have to earn less than 50% of the points available. This is for high school and middle school students. Previously, it was 59%. D grades now will range from 50-69% of points. A D grade allows a student to receive credit for the class, while the F receives no credit toward graduation.
The district staff reported that F grades increased 59.4% year-over-year for the third quarter. The survey showed by 71% of Black students received a D or an F, while it was 42.9% for Hispanics. The numbers are a bit misleading because the number of Black students in the district is less than 2%, while it’s around 10% for Hispanics so the number is much larger.
The policy is temporary and presumably should not be necessary when the fall semester begins in August and all students are back in face-to-face classes. The district starts a hybrid program for kindergartener through second graders with in-person instruction this week.
What was missing, at least in the news account I read, was the district’s commitment to a robust summer school program to help students learn the material they failed to comprehend during the current school year. The math and English classes in middle school are foundational for high school success.
The Pleasanton district deserves credit for its commitment to helping at-risk students with in-person learning since October. Those groups launched and have been maintained to get the students the help and personalized attention they need.
In Sacramento, it appears the governor and the Legislature have broken their impasse with both houses scheduled to vote on a $6.6 billion incentive package to get schools reopened by the end of the month. It’s notable that schools in many areas of the state have been open and functioning well since the fall. The sticking point has been the teachers unions in the big cities that have been unwilling to go back into the classrooms.
Given the sway that the public employee unions have over Democrat politicians, it appears that the governor and legislative leaders finally heard the loud complaints of frustrated parents who are watching their children lose a year of education and school activities.
It’s also worth remembering that Gov. Newsom, who likely will face a recall vote this fall, has had California locked down longer than any other state. Life is much closer to normal, particularly in red states, but even in deep blue states other than our own.