NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Mayor Bill de Blasio was joined by Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza on Tuesday to discuss a new grading policy for New York City public school students amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The mayor said the goal is to give students as much flexibility as possible to complete their course work. The curriculum and types of assignments for students will not change, but any student who needs additional help will be enrolled in summer learning.

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De Blasio said the city created it’s initial online learning model in roughly a week.

“Next year is going to have to be the greatest school year in New York City history,” de Blasio said. “I want to set the bar that high right now.”

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De Blasio said a priority is making sure that all seniors who were poised to graduate do so.

The mayor pledged help for any student that needs it. De Blasio said 247,000 iPads were being distributed to students across the system. He said any family that has a student that needs an iPad can call 311 or reach out via NYC.gov.

Web Extra: See de Blasio’s presentation slides (.pdf) 

He outlined new grading standards:

  • For students K-5, the new grading standards will be either “Meets Standards” or “Needs Improvement”
  • For middle school students, there will be three grades: Meets Standards, Needs Improvement and Course In Progress
  • High school students: There will be traditional grades and grade-point average, but there’s also an option for students to choose to have a “passing” grade instead of a traditional grade, which won’t impact their GPA. If they need more time, there will be a Course In Progress designation.

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“The goal here is not to fail students. I can’t think of any educator that would say ‘I want to be a teacher because I want to fail students.’ The goal is to have students master the subject matter. That’s always been the goal. So if some students need more time, this is a perfect opportunity to actually create that system where students get that time,” Carranza said.

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Carranza said the “Course In Progress” assessment will identify students where the teacher isn’t clear on the extent to which a student has been able to tackle a subject. There are a variety of reasons why that assessment might be made, Carranza said. Students will have until January 2021 to complete some coursework.

De Blasio and Carranza noted that students had a half a year of grades already in the books, and those grades will still count.

Parent Leaders for Accelerated Curriculum and Education — or PLACE NYC — told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner nearly half of public school parents surveyed wanted a different policy called “No Harm” for those in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The group said it would have preferred that a student’s final grade for the year be factored by allowing the lowest grade of all marking periods to be dropped.

“It is extremely unfair,” said PLACE NYC’s Yiatin Chu. “To wipe away two-thirds of the year that the student had already done and earned while they were in classrooms with everyone else just seems illogical to me.”

De Blasio also announced New York City is planning a virtual graduation ceremony for all New York City public school students, promising it will be one they will never forget.

“We’re going to do one big, citywide virtual graduation ceremony. We’re going to do one big celebration of New York City’s high school seniors. We’re going to make it something very special,” de Blasio said. “We’re going to give you something you will remember for the rest of your life and you will cherish. We’re going to bring together some very special guests to celebrate you, to salute you.”

Further details of the celebration were to be revealed in coming weeks, de Blasio said.

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