Secondary Grading and Reporting

FCPS is committed to being a responsive, caring, and inclusive culture where all feel valued, supported, and hopeful. Research tells us that a sense of hope and a sense of belonging are important to student learning. As we think about the next school year, educators, parents, and students may have concerns about the academic impact of learning during the pandemic. We believe we must prioritize hope and the excitement for learning by connecting students with peers and school staff as they reenter the school buildings.  This will help students regain a sense of belonging that will provide a strong foundation for learning. To that end, as a division, we will favor promotion over retention, and we encourage families to do the same. We will honor each child’s strengths and challenges as we move forward together in 2021-22.

Overview

Fairfax County Public Schools is committed to consistent grading regulation and practices where grades are an accurate reflection of student learning. The current policies include the separation of achievement and work habits, guidance on providing students additional opportunities to demonstrate proficiency, and the importance of ongoing communication with students and parents.

Updated Deadline for the Pass-No Mark Status Form

Based on feedback, the May 10, 2021 deadline has been extended to allow students and families more time to gain information about fourth quarter progress before making the final decision. Teachers, counselors, and administrators will be communicating with families regarding the updated timeline specific to each school.

  • The deadline for each individual school is based on the internal grading timelines and will be shared directly with each school community.
  • For seniors, the new deadline will be on or after May 17, 2021.
  • For middle school students and students in grades 9 - 11, the new deadline will be on or after June 1, 2021.

2020-21 Grading Policies and Practices During Virtual Learning

In light of the challenges of the 2020-21 school year, four provisional changes have been made to this year’s grading policies. The changes take effect on January 4, 2021, to be applied to the 2nd quarter gradebook through the remainder of the school year. 

Special Considerations for Virtual Learning

As we start the 2020-21 school year with 100% virtual learning, collaborative teams are re-evaluating grading design and policies to ensure equitable grading practices to meet the academic and social-emotional needs of all students. Acknowledging that teachers and students are facing new challenges as they adjust to the virtual learning environment, thoughtful consideration and flexibility in grading practices is recommended. Teacher/team grading policies and practices are based on approved Secondary Grading & Reporting Policy and will be communicated to students and parents via the course syllabus and other modes of communication.

Synchronous versus Asynchronous Tasks

Synchronous instruction and tasks occur when the teacher facilitates instruction at a specific time.  For middle and high school students, synchronous instruction and tasks will take place during the scheduled class meeting time. Synchronous time should include teacher-led instruction, collaborative and independent learning, targeted and small-group support, and/or work assigned due to teacher absence.

Asynchronous assignments/tasks are completed by the student outside of the specified class time and without teacher support, much like homework. Asynchronous tasks are assigned by teachers to be completed on each Monday (designated asynchronous day for each week) or at other times on a limited basis.  Asynchronous tasks may be independent or collaborative (i.e. projects, research/analysis hyperdocs, flipped classroom activities, etc.).  

Communication with Parents and Students

Following policy for communication and grading design, grading procedures and practices established by the teacher/team for the virtual learning environment will be clearly communicated to parents/students and revisited/reinforced throughout the school year. Communication protocols will be shared with students and parents related to missing or late work, attendance, and grades.

Grading Assignments and Assessments

Update: Please note the following modifications to grading expectations effective for the 2nd quarter through the remainder of the 2020-21 school year:

  • In classes that use the 100 point grading scale, the lowest grade on any assignment or assessment will be 50% of the maximum value of the assignment.
  • No one assignment or assessment should count more than 20% of assignments for that quarter.
  • A minimum of 6 new grades must be recorded over the course of each quarter. Please note that this is a minimum. There is no maximum number of assignments in the gradebook when used to benefit student learning. This flexibility (lowering the minimum from 9 to 6) must work in tandem with the maximum weight of a single assignment so that no one grade disproportionately impacts the quarter.

For the 2020-2021 school year, the new policies above supersede the related policies within Grading Assignments and Assessments, collaborative teams will ensure consistent and equitable grading practices and protocols given the 100% virtual learning environment. Recommended best practices for late work, homework, additional opportunities to demonstrate proficiency and assessment are below.

Late Work

Update: Effective for the 2nd quarter through the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, major assignments/assessments shall be accepted at any point during the quarter with a maximum penalty of 10%. A final due date of one week before the end of the quarter may be set by the teacher/team.

While students are engaged in distance learning, teachers will provide additional flexibility for completion and submission of both synchronous and asynchronous assignments.  Teachers will ensure students who must be absent are able to understand and complete assignments without a negative impact to the achievement grade.

Homework

In a virtual learning environment, assignments/tasks are either synchronous (completed during class time) or asynchronous (completed outside of class time); therefore, typical homework assignments (practice questions, review, and reading) are also considered asynchronous tasks.

It is expected that synchronous class time will include independent and collaborative assignments.  Those assignments should be intentionally planned to be completed during class time.  If time is required to complete assignments outside of synchronous classes, this time must be considered as part of the student’s time for asynchronous work.   

For secondary, it is recommended that no more than one hour per week of asynchronous work (to include homework) be assigned per standard/honors level course. At the high school level, the time may increase to up to 75 minutes per Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate or Dual Enrollment course per week.

Additional Opportunities to Demonstrate Proficiency

Teachers will provide purposeful messaging informing students and parents about the retake policy and eligibility, ensuring clear protocols for retakes during distance learning.  While students are engaged in distance learning, teachers will provide additional flexibility for meeting retake requirements (ie. test corrections, remediation, etc.) and completion of the retake.


Assessing in a Virtual Learning Environment

Given the 100% virtual learning environment, teachers will use a variety of assessment types to measure student growth and understanding. Some assessments may be graded while others are not. Examples of assessments that may be used are below:

  • Formative assessments 
  • Student self-assessment & reflection
  • Open-ended questions
  • Portrait of a Graduate (POG) reflections
  • Presentations of Learning (POL)
  • Progress monitoring
  • Skill(s) growth
  • Portfolios
  • Performance Based Assessments
  • Single Point Rubrics 

Teachers will ensure students understand requirements for graded assessments.  An honor code statement may be included on virtual assignments and assessments that will be graded.  Parents/students may also reference established Honor Code policy and refer to guidance communicated in the course syllabus. 

2020-21 End of Year Grading Flexibility for Middle School Students

Message for Families

FCPS has adopted a series of secondary grading policy changes for SY2020-21 to ensure students are not penalized by the challenges brought on by pandemic learning and to help our students achieve a strong finish to the school year. 

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Flexibility for Final Marks

Applied to all end of year final marks:

  • Final mark of “D” or “D+” in any course will be automatically assigned a mark of  “P” (pass) as the final mark at the end of the school year. 
  • Final mark of “F” in any course will be automatically assigned a mark of “NM” (no mark) as the final mark at the end of the school year.  

By parent/guardian request:

  • Students/families may select a mark of “P” (pass) for any courses for which a passing grade is earned for the final mark. 
    • Action Needed: Should you wish to designate one or more courses as Pass status for anticipated grades of  “A” through “C-”, the Pass-No Mark Status Form must be submitted to your school counselor/Student Services by June 1, or as otherwise indicated by your school. 
  • Students and families are encouraged to carefully consider the option to request a Pass instead of a passing letter grade for a final mark.
  • For students in grade 7 who plan to apply to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in grade 8 for admission in SY 22-23, it is recommended that they do not exercise the option to replace grades above D+ with a Pass (P) in core classes (English, Science, Mathematics, Social Studies, as well as World Language, if for high school credit).

Additional Information for Middle School Students Enrolled in High School Credit-Bearing Courses

Impact of “NM” (No Mark) or “P” (Pass) on High School Transcript

For any high school credit-bearing courses, the final mark will be included on the high school transcript.  

  • A final mark of “P” indicates that a student has earned credit for the course and may advance to the next course in the sequence if applicable, but the mark of “P” will not impact that student’s grade point average (GPA).
  • A final mark of  “NM” awards no credit for the course, and students will not be eligible for the next level of the course.
  • Students and families are encouraged to carefully consider the option to request a Pass instead of a passing letter grade for a final mark.
Final Exam for High School Credit Courses

For classes with final exams, students will be expected to take the final exam, but the exam can only serve to improve the student’s grade for the year. If a student’s grade on a final exam would not improve the final grade in the course, the final exam grade will be excluded from the final grade. This option does not apply to culminating projects. 

High School Credit Courses with Associated Standards of Learning (SOL) Tests

A final mark of “P” with an associated passing score on an end of course SOL test will result in an earned verified credit for applicable courses.

Option to Expunge a High School Course Taken in Middle School

An additional option remains available for high school credit bearing classes taken in middle school.  High school credit-bearing courses will be reflected on the middle and high school transcripts. In accordance with Virginia state regulations, FCPS Regulation 2408 permits parents of students who take a high school credit-bearing course in middle school to request that the grade be omitted from the student's high school transcript and the student not earn high school credit for the course. Parents must make this request no later than the end of the first nine weeks of the school year following completion of the course. The request to expunge as well as guidelines and the procedures for expunging grades for high school courses taken in middle school can be found here.

2020-21 End of Year Grading Flexibility for High School Students

Message for Families

FCPS has adopted a series of secondary grading policy changes for SY2020-21 to ensure students are not penalized by the challenges brought on by pandemic learning and to help our students achieve a strong finish to the school year. 

العربية (Arabic)

中文 (Chinese)

English

فارسی (Farsi)

한국어 (Korean)

Español (Spanish)

اردو (Urdu)

Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)

Flexibility for Final Marks

Applied to all end of year final marks:

  • Final mark of “F” in any course will be automatically assigned a mark of “NM” (no mark) as the final mark at the end of the school year.  
    • A mark of "NM" earns no credit for the course, does not allow a student to move to the next course, and will not be averaged into the student’s grade-point average. 
    • Information about summer learning opportunities for credit recovery and new courses will be shared through the school during the fourth quarter.
  • For classes with final exams, students will be expected to take the final exam, but the exam can only serve to improve the student’s grade for the year. If a student’s grade on a final exam would not improve the final grade in the course, the final exam grade will be excluded from the final grade. This option does not apply to culminating projects. 

By parent/guardian request:

  • Students/families may select a mark of “P” (pass) for up to two current courses for which a passing grade (“A” through “D”)  is earned for the final mark. 
    • Action Needed: Should you wish to designate one or two courses as Pass status for anticipated grades of  “A” through “D”, the Pass-No Mark Status Form must be submitted to your school counselor/Student Services by May 17 for seniors, and June 1 for students in grades 9-11, or as otherwise indicated by your school.

Impact of “NM” (No Mark) or “P” (Pass) on High School Transcript

For any high school courses, the final mark will be included on the high school transcript.  

  • A final mark of “P” indicates that a student has earned credit for the course and may advance to the next course in the sequence if applicable, but the mark of “P” will not impact that student’s grade point average (GPA).
  • A final mark of “P” with an associated passing score on an end of course SOL test will result in an earned verified credit for applicable courses.
  • A final mark of  “NM” awards no credit for the course, and students will not be eligible for the next level of the Students and families are encouraged to carefully consider the option to request a Pass instead of a passing letter grade for a final mark.

Forms

Frequently Asked Questions About End of Year Grading Flexibility for High School Courses

Which courses are eligible for “P” (Pass)?

For the 2020-21 school year, high school students may select a mark of “P” (Pass) for passing grades “A” through “D” for up to two of their current courses. This applies to any current course and is not restricted to certain content areas. This may include first semester courses but total requests may not exceed 2.0 credits unless a “P” is requested for a course that is more than one credit. 

  • Sample scenarios:
    • A 2.0 credit academy course may be requested as a “P” to count as one of the two classes.
    • Two 0.5 credit courses may be requested as a “P” to equal one of the two classes
       
  • Self-directed Economics and Personal Finance, Driver’s Education, or any other courses that were previously designated as Pass/Fail Status do not count as one of the two classes. 
     

If a student had already designated one course as a “P” (Pass) at the beginning of the school year, is there still an opportunity to request two additional classes as “P” (Pass)?

  • This end of year grading flexibility is on top of previous allowances. Therefore, if a high school student completed paperwork to request a Pass/Fail Status in fall, they may have up to three “P” (Pass) as final marks this year.
  • Self-directed Economics and Personal Finance, Driver’s Education, or any other courses that are always assigned as Pass/Fail Status do not count as one of the two classes. 
     

What is the impact of a final mark of “P” (Pass) or “No Mark”?

For any high school courses, the final mark will be included on the high school transcript. 

  • A final mark of “P” indicates that a student has earned credit for the course and is eligible to advance to the next course in the sequence if applicable, but the mark of “P” will not impact that student’s GPA.
  • A final mark of  “NM” awards no credit for the course, and students will not be eligible for the next level of the course; however, the “NM” will not factor into a student’s grade point average (GPA).

What should be considered when requesting a “P” (Pass) for a course?

The end of year grading flexibility is being offered in an effort to alleviate stress and ensure that students are not penalized by the challenges of pandemic learning. Before requesting a “P”, it is important to consider postsecondary plans and academic progress to date in classes. Questions to consider are: 

  • What impact will this have for my postsecondary plans? See below for information about college admissions and NCAA.
  • Would the letter grade show a positive or consistent trend in my performance in the content area? If yes, it is recommended to keep the letter grade.
  • Does the letter grade contribute positively towards my GPA? If yes, it is recommended to keep the letter grade.

When is the deadline for submitting the request for a “P”?

Based on feedback, the May 10, 2021 deadline has been extended to allow students and families more time to gain information about fourth quarter progress before making the final decision. Teachers, counselors, and administrators will be communicating with families regarding the updated timeline specific to each school.

  • For seniors, the new deadline will be on or after May 17, 2021.
  • For middle school students and students in grades 9 - 11, the new deadline will be on or after June 1.
  • The deadline for each individual school is based on the internal grading timelines and will be shared directly with each school community

The form must be submitted to the school in hard copy or via email.

Will it be possible to change a request for “P” when final grades are available?

All requests for “P” must be submitted to the student’s school counselor/Student Services by May 10, 2021. The decision may not be reversed.

How will a “P” be viewed in college admissions?

  • Postsecondary institutions define their own unique processes for evaluating the use of “P” in place of letter grades, and processes may vary across postsecondary institutions for both admissions and financial aid/scholarship consideration. A final mark of “P” represents any grades of “A” through “D”. Students/families are advised to carefully consider the opportunity to select a “P” instead of a letter grade and may choose to consult with the institution of higher education or other postsecondary institution if they have specific questions about implications of a “P”. 
  • Students who have already committed to postsecondary plans are encouraged to confirm with the institution/school regarding any potential impact on admissions, financial aid, or scholarships, if applicable.
  • If the letter grade demonstrates improvement, upward trend, or consistent performance in a subject or content area, many institutions/schools would recommend keeping the letter grade. 
     

How will taking a mark of “P” impact an NCAA Eligible student or a student who is considering playing sports at the college level in the future?

  • For NCAA-approved core courses completed in 2020-21 that have been issued a grade of Pass, the Eligibility Center will apply the credit earned in these courses toward the core-course requirement in the student's certification. If the student's core-course GPA would increase by assigning a value of 2.300, this value will be assigned to the Passed courses. However, if the student's core-course GPA would decrease by including the 2.300 value for Passed courses, the student’s core-course GPA will be calculated based only on courses with assigned letter grades from previous terms (credit from these courses will still be applied toward the student's core-course requirements). Note: This policy will apply to students from all grade levels (e.g., freshmen, sophomores) who successfully complete NCAA-approved pass/fail core courses in high school during the 2020-21 school year.

(NCAA Eligibility)

What happens if a student fails a course?

  • Final mark of “F” in any course will be automatically assigned a mark of “NM” (no mark) as the final mark at the end of the school year. A mark of "NM" earns no credit for the course, does not allow a student to move to the next course, and will not be averaged into the student’s grade-point average. 
  • Information about summer learning opportunities for credit recovery and new courses will be shared through the school during the fourth quarter. 
  • If a student fails a course for which a “P” was requested, the student may not apply the “P” to another course in which a passing grade was earned. The deadline to request a “P” is May 10, 2021.
  • A failing grade will be recorded as a “NM” (No Mark).

Will a course with an additional weight (i.e. Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment, International Baccalaureate, etc.) still receive the additional weight if a “P” (Pass) is selected for final mark?

A mark of "P" (in lieu of grades “A” through “D”) will earn credit and will allow for enrollment in the next course but will not be averaged into the student's grade-point average. For weighted courses, no additional weight will be applied to a grade-point average for “P”.

What grading flexibility applies to Dual Enrollment courses taken in high school?

All of the end of year grading flexibility applies only to the FCPS grades in a dual enrollment course. Dual enrollment instructors keep separate gradebooks, one for FCPS and one for the college/university. For Dual Enrollment courses, if a student requests a “P”, the  FCPS grade will be a “P” instead of passing grades “A” through “D”, but the grade for the college/university transcript will remain the earned letter grade. For Dual Enrollment courses, if a student earns an “F”, the  FCPS grade will be a NM, but the grade for the college/university transcript will remain the earned grade even if “F”. 

How is grade point average (GPA) calculated?

  • To calculate the grade point average:
  1. Assign quality points (including any applicable additional weights) to final marks earned in all courses for which high school credit is received. 
  2. Calculate the average of quality points (sum of quality points/number of credits) 
  • Final marks of “P” (Pass) and “NM” (No Mark) are not averaged into the grade point average or credits attempted. 
  • The chart below shows the approved FCPS 4 point scale and 100 point scale along with quality points for unweighted and weighted courses.
Letter Grade 4.0 Scale 100 Point Scale Quality Point Value in an Unweighted Class Quality Point Value in a Weighted Class (Honors) / (AP/IB/DE)
A 3.8-4.0 93-100 4.0 4.5/5.0
A- 3.4-3.7 90-92 3.7 4.2/4.7
B+ 3.1-3.3 87-89 3.3 3.8/4.3
B 2.8-3.0 83-86 3.0 3.5/4.0
B- 2.4-2.7 80-82 2.7 3.2/3.7
C+ 2.1-2.3 77-79 2.3 2.8/3.3
C 1.8-2.0 73-79 2.0 2.5/3.0
C- 1.4-1.7 70-72 1.7 2.2/2.7
D+ 1.1-1.3 67-69 1.3 1.8/2.3
D 0.8-1.0 64-66 1.0 1.5-2.0
F 0-0.7 Below 64 0 0

Progress Report Message and Grading Scale

Middle and high school progress reports include a general message to parents and grading scale descriptions. Official translations are available below.

Middle School (PDFs)

High School (PDFs)