Breaking down new MCPS grading guidelines

Einav Tsach

More stories from Einav Tsach


The MCPS Board of Education outlines the specific details of the 2019-2020 fourth marking period grading framework. The Board considered several other options before deciding on this specific policy.

The MCPS Board of Education approved a revised grading policy on Tuesday, May 12, based on the extraordinary circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. The purpose of this new temporary policy, according to a press release from the same day, is to ensure that the grading system in this time and situation is equitable for all students. The announcement follows MCPS’s April statement that high school students in the fourth marking period of this year will be graded on a “Pass/Incomplete” basis.

MCPS says the community was vocal about their demands for an adapted grading method.

“Thousands of MCPS students, staff, parents and community members provided input, sent emails, and generated new ideas about grading options,” the press release said.

In accordance with the revised system, high school students will have a choice concerning the grade visible to colleges/universities on transcripts. Assuming they receive a “Pass” in their course, students will be able to opt to receive either (as their semester grade) one letter grade higher than their 3rd marking period grade, or a “Pass” in the course. This decision will be made on a course-by-course basis. The county is placing the emphasis on making the choice that benefits the student.

Sophomore Arel Moav believes there are advantages to the system.

“I think that the new grading system is really good and that it will help to make students less stressed,” he said.

Junior Aya Malinovsky believes the new system will allow students to work less for a higher grade.

“I think that kids would not put in as much work, since they are almost guaranteed a pass for fourth quarter without much effort,” she said.

Moav disagrees, saying students will still have to work to earn their grade.

“I think that students won’t do less work because of this grading system, because they still have to do work to be able to pass,” he said.

If a student chooses a letter grade, that grade will be shown on the transcript and calculated into his/her cumulative GPA. If choosing a “Pass”, the student’s GPA won’t be impacted.

Paige Doyle, a math teacher at WJ, says that she has no doubt that the new grading framework has an impact, and says there may be some positives about the matter as well.

“Yes, it definitely does impact how much effort my students are putting into school work. But, I do hope that my students are finding things to do that they enjoy and didn’t have time to do before this all happened. Maybe building something by hand? Painting? Reading?” she said.

Malinovsky also believes the new method will do more harm than good.

“Third quarter grades can be used to determine what [students] get as a semester grade, and it’s bumped a grade higher so it’s not fully showing the true amount of work kids put in. I think it will be harder for juniors to get into colleges due to the inflation of grades,” Malinovsky said.

The county also said that “COVID-19” will be noted on each student’s transcript entry for this year’s second semester. With the fourth and final marking period reaching halfway, students and staff will need to wait to see exactly how the county’s new policy is put into action.