Grading Policy Unanimously Approved to Hold Students Harmless During Distance Learning

A Message from Superintendent Haglund Regarding Approval of the Spring 2020 Grading Policy to Hold Students Harmless




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The Board of Trustees unanimously approved temporary grading practices to set reasonable expectations and to hold students harmless during our transition to distance learning in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. To echo a sentiment of one of our Trustees, this was one of the most difficult decisions we’ve had to make in our collective time in education. During this historically unprecedented and uncertain time in the world, the right decision was made in the best possible way - through strong collaboration with our world-class educators and leaders at all levels and after hearing feedback and input from hundreds of students and parents.


Collaboration and Input at All Levels

This decision was not made lightly, and the options proposed weighted recommendations and guidance from the California Department of Education, State Board of Education, Alameda County Office of Education as well as post-secondary educational institutions such as the University of California, California State Universities, Community College systems and the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. 


Our Teaching and Learning team led an incredible effort to form task forces and organize focus groups with teacher leaders and administrators, collaborating with our Technology Services team to analyze secondary student data, as well as gathering and analyzing feedback from discussions with educators and our new ThoughtExchange engagement tool. I would like to personally thank our teacher and classified employee associations, who have been stellar partners throughout this shift to distance learning and process of carefully considering student grading options. 


What this temporary grading policy means for our students and families

We believe that purposeful feedback from a student’s teacher(s), including grades, serves a valuable instructional purpose by helping students and parents/guardians understand performance expectations and identifying the student's areas of strength as well as areas for improvement. As directed by the CDE, we will hold students harmless to potential impacts of temporary distance learning due to COVID-19. We believe that the plan outlined below will help us hold true to that expectation. Please continue reading to gain a better understanding of what this new process will look like for your student.


Our elementary school students and families will receive clear and meaningful teacher feedback on report cards in place of marks for the third trimester, based on teacher evaluation of student work and evidence of learning that takes place from when distance learning began to the end of the school year. 


For our middle and high school students, those who would have traditionally earned a grade: 

  • 3rd Quarter grades of A, B, or C will not decrease, but may increase based on teacher evaluation of 4th Quarter student work
  • A 3rd Quarter grade of D would earn a mark of Credit (CR) as a baseline and may raise grade to a C or higher based on teacher evaluation of 4th Quarter student work
  • A 3rd Quarter grade of F would earn a mark of No Credit (NC) and may raise mark to Credit (CR), or a grade of C or higher, based on teacher evaluation of 4th Quarter student work

Village High School awards credits on a quarterly grading/credit model, therefore students who began a new class during Quarter 4 that was not dependent on Quarter 3, will be assigned Credit/No Credit. 

Considerations and Next Steps 

For our elementary students, we will maintain our focus on the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral well-being of our TK-5 students. We ask for your patience as we find solutions through working with our teachers and administrators to create parameters for effective feedback and find solutions to create space for more narrative comments to reflect student progress in learning. We will be preparing informational materials for our teachers and communication to our families. 


For our middle and high school students, we will continue to communicate guidance from our higher education institutions, which has thus far reflected flexibility and not penalizing Seniors who are unable to retake the SAT/ACT. While GPA is only one measure of a student’s success, we are pleased that the option recommended and approved will allow this to be applied toward scholarships and college admissions, and for students taking our AP and Honors-level courses to have the ability to receive a weighted bump. Most importantly, we believe the approved grading policy will provide additional incentive for our students to remain engaged.  


For all of our students and families, we will continue to work with those who need additional support with interventions. We will continue to take into consideration the needs, efforts, and dedication of our college-bound students that will be applying to institutions in years to come, as well as our vulnerable and at-promise student groups. Finally, and most importantly, we must continue to strengthen the Community of Character values that make Pleasanton an incredible place to live and grow, and to reinforce academic integrity and citizenship. We are in this together. Please help us uphold our PUSD educational standards, so that our students will continue to go out and make a better world.


Thank you for your ongoing support, patience and collaboration. 




Dr.  David Haglund

Superintendent of Schools

Pleasanton Unified School District

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