On Tuesday, April 7, 2020, the Board of Education met by conference call for a special called meeting to handle multiple issues related to public school closure due to COVID-19 and to take care of items that were time sensitive to facilitate the continuity of school system operations. This is the first time that the Board of Education met by conference call because of the physical distancing requirements of our Governor under the direction of the Center for Disease Control.
Among many important issues discussed were decisions related to our high school seniors who are eligible for graduation at the end of this school year. On March 27, 2020, the State Board of Education suspended policies to facilitate graduation for high school seniors after meeting the minimum number of 22 credits. It also suspended the CPR requirement for high school seniors and reduced the amount of paid work hours required for our students graduating in the Occupational Course of Study. This action by the State Board required further action by the Craven County Board of Education to suspend their own policy 3460 which requires 26 credits for graduation.
The guidance on grading from the State Board of Education for seniors communicates the expectation that seniors may not earn a grade (letter or numeric) for any spring semester course, other than pass or fail. Craven County Schools has students who, for a number of reasons, may either want or need a numeric/letter grade calculated into their grade point average. This number of students may be small. However, the Board was asked by the Superintendent to either consider a resolution requesting the ability to provide seniors the choice of taking an actual grade for spring semester courses or defaulting to the guidance of the State Board. Please note for Craven County Schools to issue a grade (letter or numeric) will require approval from the State Board of Education. The other option was to accept the guidance of the State Board as written. The Board, under significant constraints of their first conference call meeting, spent a great deal of time discussing this important issue and each Board Member was advocating what is best for every child in our system. This looks very different for each Board member and it is the cornerstone of our democracy that our Board engages in and addresses difficult issues.
At the end of the meeting, the Board directed the Superintendent to collect data from high school seniors, parents, and teachers related to the extent to which our students want this option of taking an actual grade. Our Board as a whole, recognizes and respects that the transition to remote learning has had different impacts on our students across the county. It is the intention of the administration to collect this data as soon as possible to put in front of the Board for action quickly. COVID-19 has constrained our work in ways we could not have imagined four weeks ago. However, we all believe that it is important to take our time and be thoughtful as we make big decisions for students and families for this year and consider the implications for next school year.
It is important to note that grading related to students in grades K-11 continues. However, Craven County Schools teachers are working with students to ensure that grading is a method of providing feedback and that the work of students is strengthening students understanding of grade level standards. The State Board of Education has not yet provided guidance on how promotion and retention decisions will be made for this school year. Our teachers have worked very hard to assist each of our students to be in the best possible position depending on when we return to school and how further decisions by the State Board of Education will impact student academic standing.
Craven County Schools encourages all students, especially seniors to keep working their hardest during this time of remote learning. Since the guidance was provided by the State Board, we immediately started evaluating grades as of March 13, 2020 to determine eligibility to graduate. This work is on-going, and we will seek the feedback from our seniors. However, the work in and performance of our seniors in their spring semester classes will only help them going forward, not harm them. It is especially critical for our seniors who need spring courses to meet the graduation eligibility requirements. We are working hard to make sure that we do not miss any opportunity for our seniors and that we are thinking through the implications for each of them as they continue their pursuit and planning for their future.
For additional information on the guidance issued by the State Board of Education please click here: https://bit.ly/State_BOE_Guidance.
Submitted by: Jennifer Wagner, Director of Public Relations, Craven County Schools