Fort Bend ISD approves new grading procedures for 2019-20 school year, among other coronavirus-related measures

Fort Bend ISD decided at the April 6 board of trustees meeting how it will evaluate students' grades for the 2019-20 school year. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Fort Bend ISD decided at the April 6 board of trustees meeting how it will evaluate students' grades for the 2019-20 school year. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)

Fort Bend ISD decided at the April 6 board of trustees meeting how it will evaluate students' grades for the 2019-20 school year. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)

In light of the coronavirus forcing schools to close and classes to transition to an online format, the Fort Bend ISD board of trustees agreed to a new grading policy at its April 6 meeting.

“Of course, our students want to know how we're going to be grading them and how their long-term career GPA is going to be affected, especially our high school kiddos,” FBISD Superintendent Charles Dupre said to the board. “I really appreciate you allowing us to address these in a timely manner.”

Under the new procedure, the fourth nine weeks or term, referred to by the board and district staff as T4, will not count toward final grade calculations, said Ashley Causey, FBISD’s director of STEM in the teaching and learning department, in a presentation to the board. Instead, student progress will be reported as to whether a student “met standards” or “did not meet standards,” Causey said.

“This method of grade reporting will ensure that Fort Bend ISD reports on the academic performance of students in a way that supports their progress, and assists with identifying learning needs over time,” Causey said.

The final grade for elementary and middle school courses will be determined by averaging the first three nine weeks, or T1, 2 and 3, Causey said. The met or did not meet standards assessment will be used to determine which students may be in need of extra support either over the summer or next fall.

Causey said calculating final grades for high school students is a little different because credit is awarded by semester.

Under the approved policy changes, T3 grades will serve as the second semester grade, and students will not take a final exam. The overall final grade for a course will be an average of T1-3, and information related to met or did not meet standards will be used to identify students in need of additional instruction.

Causey said for seniors graduating in 2020, these changes will not affect their high school GPA, as end-of-the-year GPA and class rank are always determined at the end of T3. For students in grades 9-11, T3 will serve as their second semester average for the purposes of calculating GPA.

District staff have extended the grading deadline for T3, and students need to work with teachers in order to make up any missed assignments that affect the T3 grade.

Several of the board members, including trustee Kristin Tassin, expressed their gratitude to district staff for developing this plan.

“Thanks to you guys and your entire team for brainstorming ways to get through this grading policy and make sure that we have equity for all of our students,” Tassin said. “It’s important to the board, and I know it's important to you guys. We really appreciate you taking the time to sort through all of this.”

Trustees also took action on a few other items April 6.

The board unanimously finalized a vote to postpone the scheduled May 2 board of trustees election to Nov. 3.

Additionally, the board unanimously voted a resolution authorizing Dupre to continue purchasing goods and services needed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and giving him the authority to continue paying staff who are not working during this time.

Dupre said he feels it is important to keep paying these employees—which includes school bus drivers and some cafeteria workers.

“We believe it's in the best interest of the district to pay all of these employees because when we do resume full operations, we will need bus drivers,” Dupre said. “And we're concerned if we don't pay them, we will have significant, if not 100% attrition of folks going to seek other job opportunities.”

The board also approved a resolution to suspend the 2019-20 Texas Teacher Evaluation and Support System. Dupre said teachers will still receive summative appraisals for this year and said this action will not affect teacher contracts or their long-term career path.

Dupre concluded the April 6 meeting by saying he hopes to have an open conversation with the board about decisions related to the remainder of the school year as well as graduation ceremonies at the next board meeting, which is scheduled for April 13.

By Claire Shoop

Reporter, Northwest Austin

Claire joined Community Impact Newspaper in September 2019 as the reporter for the Sugar Land/Missouri City edition and in December 2021 moved to Austin to become the reporter for the Northwest Austin edition. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in May 2019 where she studied journalism, government and Arabic. While in school, Claire was a fellow for The Texas Tribune, worked for the student newspaper, The Daily Texan, and spent a semester in Washington, D.C. She enjoys playing cards with her family and listening to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.