To grade or not to grade? For some local schools, that's been a divisive question | April 24, 2020 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - April 24, 2020

To grade or not to grade? For some local schools, that's been a divisive question

Most public schools switch to credit/no credit while private schools give hybrid options

by Elena Kadvany

Up and down the Midpeninsula, while some students, parents and teachers breathed a sigh of relief that their schools would not be giving letter grades during the unprecedented closures, others rallied in opposition.

This story contains 1622 words.

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Staff Writer Elena Kadvany can be emailed at [email protected]


37 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 23, 2020 at 11:14 am

Don Austin signed an MOU with the teacher's union that dictated C/NC grading policy at PAUSD on March 25th, then has been trying to sell his actions ever since. Why assume that lower income, 'equity' students wouldn't get good grades and might benefit from 'hold harmless' grading policy in Q3? And why wasn't PAUSD concerned before coronavirus, when 11.8% of econ disadvantaged students were chronically absent? Why did PAUSD hold classes then and why did PAUSD give out grades then...when students didn't attend class?

PAUSD continues not to serve its students with no synchronous learning, no recorded lectures, no access to free WASC/UC accredited online platforms that are a-g and common core aligned.

Vote no on the parcel tax.

19 people like this
Posted by UC/CSU suspends SAT/ACT
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2020 at 11:37 am

With the UC/CSU already suspending SAT/ACT for admissions, GPA will play an even bigger role, leading these private schools to have an edge.

42 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 23, 2020 at 12:14 pm

I see this as a really tough issue. Without grades, many (most) middle and high school kids will do the minimum. I apologize if this pops an idealistic bubble, but few teenagers will go above and beyond on their paper about Fitzgerald simply because they just love editing papers for its intrinsic value. A similarly casual attitude has been adopted by some of the teachers in our family's small sample.

On the other side, we know that the quality of online instruction in PAUSD has varied wildly. The availability of support and structure at home varies wildly too. Both of these points hold in normal times, too, but I would argue in much smaller measure. So to some degree grading would be more unfair than usual.

So, I see the grading question as an essentially tough one. Personally I would have preferred if the district gave grades with P/F as optional, and I fear the loss of accountability to student support and performance. It is also very strange that this was decided under the scope "emergency" powers, which clearly don't apply here, as if the board trying to duck responsibility for making a tough decision that really should have been theirs.

Either way, the grading question is not a simple issue. Instead on fighting this seemingly decided question, I would recommend that we parents focus simply on continuing to advocate for the more general goal of higher quality learning experiences. We have a very well-funded district, the highest in the state per kid if I'm not mistaken. It is impossible to grow without criticism, yet not all criticism is constructive.

By the way, a huge thank you to the teachers that are really doing their best and helping kids grow and continue to love learning in these unusual times.

10 people like this
Posted by Member
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 23, 2020 at 1:29 pm

Pass no pass is the best option as now there is nothing stopping parents from helping with tests and homework.

Does the district think there are no chat rooms while kids take proctored exams on insecure websites?

Some simple book work and a project based on something earlier in the year is all the need for the last month . If the kids do assigned book work and send it in to schoology then there is no question of a-g credit.

29 people like this
Posted by What Will They Do Next
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2020 at 1:39 pm

When you reward non-productivity, you get more non-productivity. Getting high grades requires hard work. Getting a Pass, requires the bare minimum, akin to everybody gets a trophy for showing up, whether they excel or not.

Progressive thinkers love this system until their hard work and effort no longer matters, because everyone gets the same grade or a trophy. And then, after some thoughtful reflection, become conservatives.

28 people like this
Posted by Teacher
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 23, 2020 at 2:12 pm

Yikes! The poster "Independent" sure seems to have ulterior motives by their incendiary post, hence the "no on parcel tax" at the end.

As a teacher who is spending countless hours working with and trying to connect with families there IS a divide between families with resources (fast internet, parent at home, students with desks in their own rooms, etc.) and those who do not. There are families that have traveled aboard and cannot get back in the US. There are students who are just old enough to take care of younger siblings while all adults work, leaving little to no time for school work.

In a normal school year iIf a student doesn't attend class, we call home and email, hold SST meetings, and even do home visits -- all things the public doesn't see on a daily basis. We are always concerned when any student is out, because chronic absenteeism is an indicator of a student falling behind. Now, we are all struggling to call and email families, worried that someone may be seriously sick and need assistance.

Credit/No credit isn't my first choice in a grading system, but it has relieved stress from our students lives in a time that is stressful for all of us. I hope we can all be empathetic to those who make these decisions and to those teachers who have to carry them out. We're all trying our best in a unprecedented time.

26 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 23, 2020 at 3:20 pm

@Teacher - the reason to Vote NO on the parcel tax is because PAUSD hasn't been delivering for our students, while teacher's union makes sure to look out for teachers rather than students. The teachers' union made sure there would be no teacher evaluations during distance learning. Full pay though. And there is a waiver from the state on instructional minutes --- surprise, surprise, which students haven't been receiving. And, the teacher's union asked for no grading --- check the MOU. And the teacher's unions lobbied for no state testing. No accountability measures whatsoever. While students fall behind, and teachers continue not to be held accountable, yes, please vote No on the parcel tax.

10 people like this
Posted by Christopher Chiang
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 23, 2020 at 3:24 pm

Thank you for your service, but why is the debate zero-sum when nearly everyone is wanting to have two options (P/F or grade), with the student getting the better of the two.

Many focus on the honors/AP kids who lost their weighting, but also loss is the student who improved the second semester before school closing, and if it was 10th or 11th grade, that trajectory could have been important, all the more so, if next semester brings even more hardship.

Agreed that this decision has been decided and we should move on, but there were good reasons on both sides, enough that no side should claim the moral high ground, just one of those tough decisions that had to be made in this crisis.

Moving forward, I think any district should bring communities in to hear each other out before a decision, rather than after. How school will look in the fall is one of those decisions coming real soon.

2 people like this
Posted by ASR
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 23, 2020 at 3:34 pm

Give all Pass grade.

No letter grade

18 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 23, 2020 at 3:42 pm

@Teacher -- My family has seen some teachers really do their best and step up and support our kids in the effort. You sound like one of them, to the degree that you are reading and responding to parent concerns in an online news forum. My kids might currently be doing some work that goes back directly to you. You have some colleagues, however...

Earlier this year PAUSD, started a public push to eliminate traditional grading in the middle schools. I would ask you how you personally feel about that. This sort of puts our district's hasty move to eliminate grades for the year due to this crisis as suspect. I don't mean to impugn motives, but if folks truly believed (and stated publicly, as they did) that eliminating traditional grades on the whole would be good in ANY case, it sort of makes one suspicious of them doing it and citing the exigencies of a crisis. This is how abortion rights are currently being eroded in parts of America, citing the needs of the health crisis, for example.

4 people like this
Posted by ASR
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 23, 2020 at 4:02 pm

Develop a new system of quizzes with open book exam and time limit.

Score on that. Then give A-D grades.

19 people like this
Posted by Moot
a resident of Ventura
on Apr 23, 2020 at 4:04 pm

Does every parent believe that their kid got an A because they worked hard? Think again. A number of kids are told by parents to do whatever it takes to get an A and they do, they resort to cheating!

Perhaps eliminating the grade, will actually take the stress off kids and open themselves to learning. There is no learning in regurgitating course work that a kid has failed to master and neither is there learning in cheating. Only a few kids in school really learn.

19 people like this
Posted by cmarg
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2020 at 4:23 pm

I think we all need to look at Palos Verdes and how they voted on Grades with an option of Pass/Fail. Their board meeting had teachers explaining about how things are better. The Honors English teacher shared about how he was able to spend quality time reviewing essay drafts, give great feedback to student AND students have a little longer to really focus on submitting a high quality essay.

My feeling is there was not as much input from solid teachers about grading in the high school. It was a poor decision and unfortunately, the board will not step in to do anything. The teacher's MOU needs to be reworked. We would not be in this situation of no learning, major angst within homes due to no schedule of classes, and lack of virtual classes.

Again, I must say, here we are in Silicon Valley. Wait till the Real Estate people get wind of the shortfall within PAUSD. Perhaps they can get involved to do something since their commissions will go down due to lower prices on houses. A major selling point has always been the schools in Palo Alto. Not so now. They are taking the EASY path instead of taking on a leadership role like what I see Palos Verdes is doing right now. They are doing what is good for teachers and good for students.

Just so sad and disappointed. To the teacher worried about bond measures, I would have to say, voice your input to push for students otherwise there will be lots of us making sure as many people vote No on any school measures. Sad but valid.

26 people like this
Posted by Family Friendly
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2020 at 5:34 pm

"A major selling point has always been the schools in Palo Alto. Not so now."

Palo Alto schools are poor-to-mediocre, like the rest of the state. Our dirty little secret is that the prestige of our schools has always just been about the quality of the students, who are the offspring of Silicon Valley engineers and Stanford faculty. However, without grades or even SATs this year, our students will have no opportunity to shine.

25 people like this
Posted by Fremont Parent
a resident of another community
on Apr 23, 2020 at 6:18 pm

To the Teacher,

'Independent' is Absolutely right. We, the public school parents, know it very well how teachers' union calls the shots when it comes to decision making in our school system. This Credit/No Credit grading policy has been dictated by teacher's union, citing their favorite excuse 'for the sake of equity'. Decades spent on this 'equity' mantra, and disadvantaged students are still failing in California. In fact, I have serious doubt whether teachers even care about these 'equity' students, or just use them to advance their own agenda.

Fremont Unified recently adopted the credit/No Credit policy as well, at the detriment of our high performing students. Our Mission San Jose High is one of best performing high schools in Bay Area. However, teachers and our board of trustees constantly neglect our students, openly ignore parents' opinion and petitions. Why? We pay the highest property taxes in Fremont and our kids do not help the agenda of teacher's union which is lower the bar for everyone, so that we can all be 'equal'.

It's a shame! In other parts of the world, academically inclined children are rewarded, not punished.

The truth is most teachers here do just bare minimum, and can get away with it since the engaged parent community would do anyhting in their power to help their kids succeed. The result - school ratings go up, home values sore, new families move in and pay exorbitant property tax, the district benefits from it and the teachers then come in and take all the credit.

My kids are in public school system for over 10 years, and I have painfully watched teachers barely teaching, the district and bargaining units relentlessly pushing social engineering which undermines Asian kids, but benefits no one. The disadvantaged minority still struggles to get ahead. This is the net result of their 'equity and justice' activism.

13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 23, 2020 at 6:40 pm

How about charging people to post comments in this article? So PAO can generate some revenues.-)

Agreed that this decision has been decided and parents should move on, be constructive.

13 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 23, 2020 at 8:23 pm

It HAS been decided, so let's move on. Let's move on, for instance, to pondering our superintendent's words in an online speech and Q&A (with invisible Qs) last Monday. He must have been impressed by how much anxiety the grading issue is causing. So now he would like us to let go of this unhealthy obsession by rethinking the concept of school entirely (hey, why let a good crisis go to waste!). Why not do away with grading altogether? Why expect a 7-year-old to be in 2nd grade, and to be a year more advanced in knowledge and skills the year after? Etc. Why indeed. It's caused a lot of work in the past.

We could also move on to the question of what it will take to have our schools accept the education that many parents are currently finding at independent online institutions as a legitimate way to fulfill graduation requirements - an issue apparently covered by some state legislation that our district ignores. Not that buying both decent teaching and actual grades elsewhere resolves the question of what exactly we are paying taxes for, but it sure would help those of our soon-to-graduate kids who can't get excited about the beauty of community college.

We could also get our act together and take action so that our centralized decision-making process (a superintendent and a school board with low turnover that apparently can only be held accountable via regular elections) is in the hands of individuals who give us proportionate representation of the different views in our community and are entirely transparent in who they are beholden to. I understand there are at least a few elections coming up in the fall....

23 people like this
Posted by Student
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Apr 23, 2020 at 8:45 pm

Please consider that students are under a lot of stress right now. While it is fair to say that we do have more time on our hands and that time could be used to study more, parents are quick to dismiss our mental health and the role that it plays in completing schoolwork to the best of our ability, thus learning, and consequently, our grades. If one thought that students attending PAUSD schools were stressed before — due to the already ingrained culture of competition prevalent at every campus — think about how this situation we are in is affecting your children now.
Before bashing decisions made by the school board and questioning why students are “slacking,” maybe take time to understand that are difficult times for everyone — students included: the added stress that comes with assigned work and keeping up one’s grades really takes a toll on your child’s mental health.

28 people like this
Posted by Downfall
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 23, 2020 at 9:59 pm

@Family Friendly wrote: "Palo Alto schools are poor-to-mediocre, like the rest of the state. Our dirty little secret is that the prestige of our schools has always just been about the quality of the students, who are the offspring of Silicon Valley engineers and Stanford faculty."

I have written this myself on other forums numerous times and this could not be more correct. I don't understand how others do not see how obvious this is. Palo Alto schools do not have not excellent performance because of the teachers or admin. It all comes down to the good gene pool and most families have sufficient income to supplement where needed.

21 people like this
Posted by exasperated
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2020 at 1:42 pm

The PAUSD administration and board have pushed through "equity" proposals that are widely unpopular in the community. [Portion removed.] The driving philosophy for de-laning is by Jo Boaler, who sells her progressive equity theories that everyone benefits when students of all abilities are put in the same classroom. One problem is that her research was based on cherry picked data and shoddy statistical analysis. De-laning has been shown in many studies through the years as being harmful (refer to the well-known Big Fish Little Pond Effect). Also, in off-the record discussions with teachers, they strongly believe that de-laning won't work, that it serves nobody. The high-achieving kids are bored and make trouble, the struggling kids are demotivated because they think they are stupid compared to their high-performing peers, and the teachers are expected to teach to a huge range of abilities. But the teachers say they have no voice. Does that sound like someone is ramming through an agenda that the vast majority of stakeholders dislike?

Another example is that the majority of the community supports WGPA, but abolishing it is/was back on the table. Dharap campaigned against WGPA. Now they have completely gotten rid of WGPA by getting rid of grades altogether! Well done.

For all the self-serving gaslighting tweets on equity by Don Austin, I don't see anything that actually helps the SED/HUR population. For example, the "Reimagining" middle school math proposal unveiled by Ofek in December was targeted to serve the "middle" kids, even though Don Austin's "reboot" speech in October called out how poorly PAUSD SED/HUR fare. His empty words were a pretext for getting resources to do something quite different. He does not really care about equity in a way that actually matters.

In discussing with my real estate agent, we agreed that Palo Alto isn't worth it anymore since the main attractor for many families has been the "excellent schools".

If you don't like what's happening in PAUSD, there are 3 board seats up for election. Please vote for candidates that advocate academic excellence. Last time the only candidate who supported academic excellence was Kathy Jordan, and she got torched by the Campanile and Todd Collins who personally funded a highly negative attack ad just before the election. Dauber and Dharap won and have been pushing their "equality of outcome" agenda. If we elect 3 candidates who represent giving ALL kids a high-quality education as well as listening to the community, this will tip the balance.

Then, we need to remove Austin and Ofek. PAUSD is a democracy. Ask yourself if the agenda that you see playing out now (why waste a perfectly good crisis?) represents what you want in a school district.

4 people like this
Posted by Not a fan of counseling at paly
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Apr 24, 2020 at 2:17 pm

just not a fan. Our paly counselor made mistakes on every single transcript then acted like we were stupid or mean to make her fix it . The head counselor has no credential for her position but admin let’s her make decisions on behalf of students lives and futures. Refusal to release which courses they gave honors credit to and refusal to evaluate uc application rules. They call the shots.

Buy a counselor if you have the money and never talk to paly counselelirs. They will be mean to your kids if you ask them for anything. Really Mean.

8 people like this
Posted by exasperated
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2020 at 2:21 pm

@Downfall, it's both nature and nurture. Despite disadvantaged family backgrounds, SED/HUR students can get an excellent education. Take a look at
Web Link
"The school’s students who are homeless or live in temporary housing passed math at a higher rate than the network’s overall student population, at 97 percent. They tied the network’s overall reading pass rate of 84 percent."

[Portion removed.]

9 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Apr 24, 2020 at 2:34 pm

Due to the disruption of the school year, credit/no credit makes sense. It would be hard to grade under these circumstances. Charge for online comments? LOL.

11 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Apr 24, 2020 at 3:11 pm

@exasperated -

"Reimagining" middle school math proposal ... was targeted to serve the "middle" kids"

The middle school math reform is absolutely aimed at helping low-income and other struggling students. The main pillar is raising expectations for all, and for all students to reach Algebra by 8th grade (currently the case only for high lane students). De-laning is an option, but not decided - Austin specifically said there was no de-laning plan, and future steps determined next year, after a year of experience with 6th grade (which has always had no lanes). My guess btw is that you are right - the examples that support middle school de-laning do not look like PAUSD, and it seems unlikely to work here. But raising expectations for all is unquestionably good, and that's the policy.

"I don't see anything that actually helps the SED/HUR population."

You must have missed the intensive focus on Escondido and Barron Park schools, which have ~50% of the SED Latino elementary students in the District. Barron Park meaningfully improved CAASPP results last year; Escondido did not. Both are receiving additional resources and scrutiny and results are being carefully watched.

You also missed the Asst Superintendent appointed specifically to support SED students, with new team members underneath her (including ex Program Manager from Dreamcatchers). The Student and Family Engagement (SAFE) program was launched, reorganizing Family Engagement specialists to make them effective. They are focused on parent engagement for the earlier grades and direct student support in the later grades.

And you seem to have missed next year's plan to look at "structured literacy," which has been shown to be much more effective at improving literacy outcomes for all struggling readers, including those with dyslexia and with low-literacy home settings. That would be a major shift in an area that PAUSD is very weak.

WGPA back on the table? Who is doing the gaslighting now? It has never even come up, not once.

It's interesting that you look to your real estate agent as the authority for how the schools are doing. That says a lot about how you think about education. The good news is that NONE of the above will negatively impact high-performing / high-income students. All in all, it is likely to help them, as expectations get raised across the board.

And yes, they could try doing Success Academy in Palo Alto. Of course, none of the higher income families would want that approach for their kids, so first they'd have to segregate the HUR/SED kids into a separate program, just for them. Is that what you are looking for?

2 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 24, 2020 at 3:46 pm

Other schools found a way to gradeThinking people should only have positive reactions and comments and limited free speech , but only if they are rich. Lol for sure.

This notion that only thank you notes are information that will be looked at or people need to pay if their opinion or perception is not all sunshine seems a bit like some other country.

P no pass is not the best solution. Merit aid usc acceptance and competitive scholarships will be missed more families need public schools and they will take the higher gpa lol. It is not funny and p no is not equitable.

3 people like this
Posted by Amom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 24, 2020 at 4:56 pm

‘ @resident

Alf for 8th grade is a very low bar these days. That is not raising the standard. These kids are capable of much more. It would be great to push statistics logic and probability with some programming for the 8th grades who are not middle. Also this would benefit those who may be tired of old school algebra from 1930.

6 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 24, 2020 at 6:48 pm

Teaching to only to the "standards," which were meant even by their authors to indicate a minimal bar of acceptable achievement, is the reason more than half of our middle school students take math outside of school.

If PAUSD cared about kids, high middle or low, they would reinstall academic excellence and expectation back into the normal school, where it belongs and where all kids have access to it.

18 people like this
Posted by Former PAUSD Teacher
a resident of Mountain View
on Apr 24, 2020 at 8:30 pm

Really? from Family Friendly ... and the 22 people who gave it a Like ...

"Our dirty little secret is that the prestige of our schools has always been about the quality of the students, who are the offspring of Silicon Valley engineers and Stanford faculty."

I had the pleasure of teaching for 32 years in PAUSD and can assure you that quality students are not limited to Silicon Valley engineers and Stanford faculty.

15 people like this
Posted by Tricia Barr
a resident of Menlo Park
on Apr 24, 2020 at 8:57 pm

The Palo Alto Online article states:

"Palo Alto parent Tricia Barr worried that students will be compared to applicants from districts that kept letter grades and that "it could absolutely hurt their prospects in the college admissions process," she said during the school board's virtual meeting on April 21.

However, private and public colleges and universities across the country have said that students applying from these districts will not be disadvantaged."

** College-bound students may not be penalized, but they will be disadvantaged with credit / no credit **

Here is what I stated in the meeting:

"Their GPA will be impacted (it won't be as high as others in a similar situation who have grades, so they really are disadvantaged compared with their peers) and could absolutely hurt their prospects in the college admissions process.

Superintendent Austin said UC and CSU systems, have made clear that students will not be penalized for posting Pass/No Pass transcripts for this semester.

However, in the UC Admissions statement, it states “For admissions purposes. UC will continue to calculate a GPA using all A - G courses completed with letter grades in grades 10 and 11… Courses completed with Pass or Credit grades… will not be used in GPA calculation…” "

Students with a credit / no credit *will* be disadvantaged compared with other applicants have grades for this semester, especially those college-bound juniors who were on an upward trend before distance learning started.

8 people like this
Posted by PA Parent
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 24, 2020 at 10:48 pm

@Tricia Barr/Menlo Park, first, if are you are a Menlo Park parent, why are you sticking your oar into the PAUSD grading policy, including calling in on their webinar?

Second, no, students will not "hurt their prospects for college admissions." Given that ALL OF OREGON, ALL OF NEW MEXICO, plus hundreds of other districts across California and the country (the list is very long), are pass/fail this semester, colleges are going to figure it out, and kids will get a fair shot.

Here's some good news for hyper-worried parents (and kids) - the number of international students is going to plummet, as is the ability of lower income families to pay for college. So this will be the best chance in forever for your kids to get into the college of their choice, whatever their GPA.

12 people like this
Posted by Not rich
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 25, 2020 at 6:27 am


So you see a way to use money and others misfortune during a pandemic to get ahead

@ the inability of lower income families to pay and international students who have been hit hard. (I will add med high income families who lost their jobs- that is a win win for you!)

Let’s all hope for karma Are you in lifetime movies? Desperate housewives? Are we being punked?

I think kids should consider foothill classes for general Ed . That may ease some college pressure poor or rich. The classes are very well done and not easy but very fair. having one or two gen ed classes can make college life easier . The schools should consider putting a few on their campus

13 people like this
Posted by Debs
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Apr 27, 2020 at 7:11 am

[Post removed.]

17 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Apr 27, 2020 at 3:46 pm

@Debs - you're the one who's ungrateful, and it's the teachers' unions who are negatively impacting education.

We pay PAUSD teachers the highest salary in the state for a comparable public school with ungodly rich pension and benefits and the teaching corps refuses to provide instruction for our students. Some teachers, yes, but overall no.

The job is to educate our students. We're just asking for some synchronous and asynchronous instruction for our students, especially our HS students, so they're not just off teaching themselves like they are now.

PAUSD average teacher salary $115,641 /9 months work, with benefits, PAUSD pays $152,488/ 9 months --- don't forget teacher tenure, so it is almost impossible to fire a teacher once they get tenure. Yep.

So, let's VOTE NO on the parcel tax ---
And let's get a charter school going.

12 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 27, 2020 at 7:21 pm


Do you support the sci teacher who has made my kids life worse.

She says she will not teach. She told them to look at their old niotes. No AP test review.

Oh.. but she also told them they woul FAIL if they did not meet the new 1-4 standard they made up!!

No instruction . No feedback. No lectures. No notes. Nothing. Office hour but once a week for all her combined classes.

Hypocrite? I know she is to blame for making my kid sick and disadvantaged for the AP test.

If she had done one thing I would not be posting this.

14 people like this
Posted by Some Mom
a resident of another community
on Apr 27, 2020 at 9:10 pm

Debs, you have absolutely every reason to love your union!

It must be great to be a member of a special interest group (insert your teacher's union name) which guarantees your job security for life along with sweet fat (defined) pension benefits, thanks to tax paying parents. In return, all you have to do is just bare minimum for your students and never held accountable to anyone for anything.

Who is really ungrateful here?

13 people like this
Posted by Sally
a resident of Downtown North
on May 1, 2020 at 8:41 am

Just announced that PAUSD rising 6th graders will have no letter grades in math through middle school.

This is not COVID related. It will be the new PAUSD normal.

5 people like this
Posted by Independent
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on May 1, 2020 at 6:17 pm

Kids need high expectations, rather than lowering standards.

9 people like this
Posted by Steve Toteda
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on May 2, 2020 at 12:05 am

The PAUSD District and the School Board are failing our students.

The district must give the students credit and grades that they EARNED before the shutdown. This aligns with the guidance options that the California Department of Education is offering to CA districts, as noted on its website: "grade based on marks given before the school shutdowns, while giving students a chance to raise grades during this time."

The Board must VOTE

The Palo Alto School District Board must VOTE to change the grading policy instead of defaulting to a decision by the Teacher's Union and Superintendent Austin. This decision greatly affects the future of current PAUSD students in our two high schools in the District: Gunn High School and Palo Alto High School in Northern California. The Board solicited feedback in their April 21st Board meeting, which was overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the grading policy intact, but DID NOT ACT.

We must act to prevent the PAUSD Board's passive acceptance of the current Superintendent's policy for the second semester, mandatory credit/no credit, to continue...and by default to continue into the Fall 2020 Semester. Since apparently no vote will be needed to continue this policy in the Fall of 2020, the students and parents of Palo Alto must force the Board to VOTE now.

Numerous parents are concerned that teachers are now creating their own grading system on an ad-hoc basis, and this is creating a crisis for our students while the school has fallen into chaos.

Numerous California state districts have announced they will issue final semester letter grades. Most of these are establishing “hold harmless” policies, wherein final semester grades will be no lower than third quarter. These include seven of the ten largest districts: Elk Grove, Sacramento City Unified, Corona-Norco, Los Angeles Unified, San Diego Unified, San Bernardino, and Fresno Unified.

Numerous other districts giving final semester grades no lower than third quarter include: Pleasanton, Los Gatos/Saratoga, Alameda Unified, West Sonoma County High School District, Healdsburg Unified, Santa Rosa City Schools, Petaluma, Claremont, Glendale Unified, San Jose East Side Union, Clovis, Tracy Unified, La Cañada, Santa Maria, Modesto, Madera, Manteca, Rocklin, Rialto, Sweetwater Union, Hesperia, William S. Hart USD, Fontana, Anaheim, Windsor Unified, Central Unified, ABC United, Arcadia, Temecula Valley, Chino Valley, Orange Unified, Chaffey Joint, Murrieta Valley, San Jacinto, Hemet, Palm Springs, and Riverside Unified, just to name a few. Palos Verdes, a school district similar to Palo Alto, saw their staff recommended letter grades, and the Board voted to accept this policy on April 22, one day after the Palo Alto Board abdicated their responsibility. Tamalpais Unified is implementing a grading system in which all students who are in good standing will earn an A in their academic courses during distance learning, and the A will be averaged with the student’s quarter grades issued in March.

Numerous districts have announced they will offer some form of CHOICE. Examples include: South Pasadena and Lodi Unified are offering a choice of letter grades as default or credit/no credit, El Dorado Hills, Roseville Joint, and San Marcos Unified are offering choice of letter grade or Pass/No Mark or Pass/Fail; San Juan (11th largest in CA), Cloverdale, Bishop Unified and Mariposa are offering credit/no credit with option to request or opt-in for letter grades, Jefferson Union (Daly City) is offering either letter grade (for an A, B, or C) or Pass (for a D or F), are offering credit/no credit or pass/fail with letter grade opt-in choice.

U.C. Position Magnifies Importance of Second Semester Grades

The University of California system largely calculates GPAs on the basis of grades from a student’s sophomore and junior year and, under normal circumstances, utilizes standardized test scores such as the SAT and ACT in admissions decisions. The announcement that U.C. would not require SAT or ACT scores for the Class of 2021 and would accept credit/no credit and exclude those units in the calculation of an applicant’s GPA actually makes the second semester grades even more important for our sophomores and juniors. For a current junior, without the second semester grades, their GPAs would be calculated on the basis of their sophomore year and the first half of their junior year only with no opportunity to improve. The U.C. change actually makes second semester grades materially more important than before.

Palo Alto Stands Alone

Don't believe the District's continued misinformation when parents are told "all schools will go pass/fail". The lengthy list of schools provided above is only a sampling, and with nearly 1,000 California school districts in existence, Palo Alto stands with only a few affluent school districts in Santa Clara county that have decided against assigning semester letter grades or offering a choice.

Worse, the Palo Alto School Board stands virtually alone in not having even voted to remove the grading policy...not even taking responsibility for the change in School Policy. Students and parents should fully recognize a Board that is imposing their policy by fiat through the Superintendent, whom they hired and whom they can fire, and students and parents must make their views known.

The decision made by the Palo Alto School Board lacked transparency, and was done without a VOTE. All Palo Alto residents should be concerned about a Board that acts
with impunity, and cycles through Superintendents and Principals on a regular basis.

Do the math Palo Alto, grades count. Write the PAUSD School Board at [email protected] to make your views known, and act to hold them accountable.

8 people like this
Posted by Debs
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 4, 2020 at 3:19 pm

[Post removed.]

6 people like this
Posted by Debs
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 4, 2020 at 3:21 pm

If you think teachers are the problem, why do you pay so much for your houses here? It ain't the street sweeping.

6 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 5, 2020 at 1:45 pm


Deb ; not every kid deserves credit for work they have done ;We are very poor so my kid knows higher grades will help our family so she l loves to work hard and does have a huge scholarship: if she was a jr. the district policy would have taken it all away

y : thank god she is leaving now and has no chance of coming across you; i am sure you would hate her for being smart and white and would be mean and retaliatory with your strange idea that parents are evil and you are somehow smarter than all parents; she is talented too

there is some odd idea that parents with smart kids who enjoy achievement and success are evil rich and white ;

Deb. you should start taking that pension asap and step out of the classroom and out of the way of kids who deserve credit for work they have done,

my kid stayed up late. took notes in triplicate and sat watching anything online to understand curriculum at an all A level: she made sure she helped everyone around her understood ideas at a high level because it was fun:

kids should be given a choice and all honors credit should be given that was promised in writing from their original catalogue

4 people like this
Posted by Go high!
a resident of Greenmeadow
on May 5, 2020 at 1:48 pm

Aren’t you folks supposed to go high when “they” go low?

Like this comment
Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 5, 2020 at 4:29 pm

[Post removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]

9 people like this
Posted by concerned parent
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2020 at 3:01 pm

As of this week, 250+ CA Districts have issued letter grade option policies to their students and now exceeds 80% of all California Public High Schools enrollment based on Ed Data cumulative data (90% of all CA students if you include private schools which are issuing grade options). These numbers are so dramatically in line with offering students a letter grade option that any district adopting credit/no credit should take pause. What amount would be a significant enough percentage for them to consider the possibility that the students are being disadvantaged? 85%? 95%? This number continues to grow every day as Districts carefully weigh what is at risk, and it is not too late to provide students with a second semester grade or the option for a second semester grade. This would NOT require an individual fourth quarter grade. Many California school districts are providing a semester grade by combining a third quarter grade blended with an A for the fourth quarter or some opportunity to adjust upward from third quarter for the semester. Many fair and harmless options available to join the majority of high school students in California in benefiting from their hard work and not disadvantage these students in the college admissions process.

See collected data below which is quite persuasive.

A tremendous amount of data has been collected to demonstrate to the District that there are many letter grade options that can be carefully tailored to address any concerns even this far into the semester.

In most cases in below examples, fourth quarter is not being graded, and participation is only used toward possible increases to third quarter performance and to encourage engagement and learning.

100% of Marin, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Mendocino, Lake, Kings, Calaveras, Imperial, Trinity, Inyo, Mono, Lassen, Del Norte, Tulare, Yuba, and Sutter counties are offering letter grades or a hybrid model.

A. Hundreds of California state districts have announced they will issue final semester letter grades.

Most of these are establishing “hold harmless” grade protection policies, wherein final semester grades will be no lower than third quarter, including FIFTEEN of the TWENTY largest districts in the state:

1. Elk Grove

2. Santa Ana

3. Capistrano (hybrid - letter grades (A-C), Credit, No Credit, or Inc)

4. Los Angeles Unified

5. San Diego Unified (hybrid- letter grade default, No Grade option for D-F)

6. Corona-Norco

7. San Bernardino

8. Fresno Unified

9. San Juan

10. Sacramento City Unified

11. Clovis

12. Sweetwater Union

13. Garden Grove

14. Riverside

15. Stockton

B. 100% of Marin, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Mendocino, Lake, Kings, Calaveras, Imperial, Trinity, Inyo, Mono, Lassen, Del Norte, Tulare, Yuba, and Sutter counties are offering letter grades or a hybrid model.

C. Dozens of districts are offering a flexible grading model to receive a semester grade or choice/alternative.

In these hybrid models, any letter grade option would be harmless and no lower than third quarter. In most cases, fourth quarter is NOT graded.

1. Tamalpais Unified (Universal Pass grading system: all in good standing will earn an A during distance learning, then averaged with third quarter grades)

2. San Rafael City Schools (letter grades (A-C) or Credit/No Credit)

3. Los Gatos-Saratoga Union (letter grades (A-C) or Credit/No Credit)

4. Temple City (letter grades (A-C) or Credit/No Credit)

5. West Contra Costa (letter grade (A-C), Pass or NC)

6. Lodi (letter grade default with C/NC option)

7. Santa Cruz Union (letter grades, Credit or Incomplete)

8. Jefferson Union (letter grade (A-C) or P (for a D or F))

9. Monterey Peninsula (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

10. Salinas (letter grade or NC)

11. Pajaro Valley (letter grade default, C/NC option)

12. Paso Robles (letter grade (A-C), P or NC) (recently readjusted)

13. Coronado (letter grade (A-C), Pass or NC)

14. El Dorado Hills (letter grade or Pass/No Mark or Pass/Fail)

15. Roseville Joint (letter grade or Pass/No Mark or Pass/Fail)

16. Whittier Union (letter grade or Pass/No Mark or Pass/Fail)

17. Cloverdale (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

18. Chico (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

19. Placer (letter grade, C, NC, or Incomplete)

20. Placer Union High School District (letter grades no lower than third quarter, Passing Credit, Inc, or NC, with a one-year opportunity to raise a NC;

21. Palos Verdes (letter grade or Pass/No Mark or Pass/Fail)

22. San Marcos (letter grade or Pass/No Mark or Pass/Fail)

23. Atascadero (letter grade (A-C), Pass or NC)

24. San Lorenzo Valley (letter grade or Pass/No Mark or Pass/Fail)

25. Carpinteria (letter grade A, Credit (B-D), or No Credit (F)

26. South Pasadena (letter grade default, C/NC option)

27. Templeton (letter grade default, C/NC option)

28. Monrovia (letter grade default, C/NC option)

29. Covina Valley (letter grade default, C/NC option)

30. Lake Elsinore (letter grade default, C/NC option)

31. Center Joint (letter grade default, P/NP option)

32. Oxnard (P/NP default, letter grade opt-in after school ends, for any class)

33. Santa Barbara (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

34. Lucia Mar (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

35. Lammersville (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

36. Bishop Unified (and all Inyo county) (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

37. Calaveras (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

38. Colusa (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

39. West Covina (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

40. Azusa (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

41. East Nicholaus (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

42. Duarte (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

43. Norwalk-La Mirada (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

44. Charter Oak (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

45. Mariposa (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in)

46. Firebaugh-Las Deltas (C/NC default, letter grade option; D is Credit)

47. San Gabriel (C/NC default, letter grade opt-in, only considering q4 work post 5/4)

48. Ceres (C/NC default, letter grade (A-B) option)

49. Manhattan Beach (letter grade default, Pass option)

50. Newport Mesa (letter grades (A-C) or Inc)

51. Torrance (letter grade (A-D), Pass, or Inc)

52. Fullerton Joint Unified (letter grades (A-C); D becomes a C) or NC)

53. San Pasqual Valley (letter grade, C, NC, or Inc)

54. Summerville (letter grade or P)

55. Sanger (letter grade (A-C), P or NP)

56. Upland (letter grade or C/NC)

57. Ojai (letter grade (A-C), Pass, or Inc)

58. Antelope Valley Union (letter grade (A-C), P or NC (D = Pass))

59. Redondo Beach (letter grade A-C or Inc for fourth quarter to be averaged with third quarter; no semester grade may be lower than third quarter)

60. Alhambra (letter grade (A-C) or Credit)

61. Ventura Unified (proposal under review: letter grade (A-C), P or Inc)

62. Laguna Beach (letter grade (A-C), P or Inc)

63. Saddleback (letter grade (A-C), P or Inc)

64. Wasco Union (letter grade or P/F)

65. Tustin (letter grade, Credit or Incomplete)

66. El Segundo (letter grade (A-B), Credit (for C or D grades), or NC)

67. Baldwin Park (proposed: C/NC or letter grade no lower than prior to closures)

68. Calexico (letter grades, with possible flexible hybrid structure TBD)

69. Santa Paula (letter grades, with possible flexible hybrid structure TBD)

70. Orange Center (letter grade (A-C), F, or Pass (D))

71. Ramona (letter grades A-C no lower than 3q, P/F, or Inc)

72. Willits (letter grades (A-B) or NC)

73. Grossmont (letter grades A-C, Pass or No Mark)

C. Dozens of other districts are offering hold harmless semester letter grades no lower than third quarter. In most cases, fourth quarter is NOT graded. And many have eliminated an F grade entirely.

Liberty Union
West Sonoma County High District
Scotts Valley
Santa Rosa City Schools
Cotati-Rohnert Park
St. Helena
San Marino
Paso Robles
Simi Valley
Modesto Union HSD
Merced Union
Western Placer
Paradise Valley
Eureka City Schools
Plumas County
Western Placer
East Side Union
La Cañada
Los Alamitos
El Monte
Wheatland Union
Fort Bragg
Los Banos
Culver City
Valley Center
Brett Harte Union HSD
Victor Valley
Twin Rivers
Santa Maria
ABC United
San Jacinto
Perris Union
Conejo Valley
Anderson Union
Silver Valley
Bear Valley
Golden Plains
Temecula Valley
Chaffey Joint
Palm Springs
Murrieta Valley
Hanford Joint
Central Unified
Val Verde
Walnut Valley
El Monte
El Rancho
Kingsburg Union
Washington Union
Mountain Empire
Corcoran Unified (higher of the two grades from third and fourth quarter)
Pierce Joint
Silver Valley
Rim of the World
Lone Pine
Death Valley
Owens Valley
Big Pine
Centinela Union (letter grades A-C (no lower than third quarter), so every child passes)

D. Most all private schools are offering letter grades and are coming up with some creative approaches. For instance, private University High School in San Francisco has developed a creative option of a “Double-A” grading policy for work submitted in the 4th quarter. This means, for all students in good standing, the sum of the work in this shelter-in-place environment will be assessed at or above an A- grade (3.5/90%) and averaged, as appropriate by course, with the existing 3rd quarter record of work.

E. Many districts are continuing traditional letter grading for semester grades.

Huntington Beach
Beverly Hills
William S. Hart
Chino Valley
Oak Park
Las Virgenes
Washington Unified
Colton Joint
Santa Ynez
Trinity Alps
San Luis Obispo Coastal
Trinity Alps
Anderson Valley
Eureka City Schools
Klamath Trinity

3 people like this
Posted by high school parent
a resident of another community
on May 6, 2020 at 3:29 pm

Here is data with grading policy links: Web Link

6 people like this
Posted by Juanita
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 6, 2020 at 7:29 pm

all these data are excuses to inflate your kid's grades so you can be like all the other palo altans who overpay for their houses and have to justify it on their kid's backs

7 people like this
Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 8, 2020 at 1:19 am

Let's turn our attention to teaching.

Maybe not all of you realize that most of our high school students are self teaching.

Our district is not requiring teachers to teach. In fact the required minimum live teaching hours in Palo Alto right now for high school teachers is ZERO.

If community colleges can teach in CA and they teach our students who attend Middle College, why can't our high school teachers teach on a schedule live?

With real teaching we can have real grading. But most importantly, we can have real learning.

6 people like this
Posted by uhh
a resident of Barron Park
on May 9, 2020 at 10:05 am

fact checker---how do you live with yourself publishing untruths?

3 people like this
Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on May 9, 2020 at 1:29 pm

@uhh All facts. You may not be reading closely. I used the words HIGH SCHOOL REQUIRED LIVE and TEACHING.

Yes, there are office hours.
Yes, there are materials posted.

But there's zero required live teaching at the high school level in Palo Alto right now. The District mandate is asynchronous.

Office hours (in which kids can zoom or email in for questions) are not live instruction.

Yes, some amazing teachers are teaching 1 to 2 hours per class per week. Most students are receiving less than 5 hours per week of live instruction and some zero.

Also, there is no bell schedule tied to periods. The teachers post when their live classes will be available, but there are conflicts because it's not connected to periods.

Please post the link which shows your facts.

Like this comment
Posted by Jodie Pratt
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 19, 2020 at 7:08 am

I think that every school should decide for itself which system is best for them. My school decided to leave the letter grades during this period. Therefore, I often used Web Link to do the tasks and not fail the classes. Since the online system did not change the general approach to the educational process.

Like this comment
Posted by Quizzma
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 28, 2020 at 8:11 am

Spanish Commands ( npm install ). While the npm script is normally installed via a package.json file, I use the –save and –save-dev commands in the setup script to force it to be installed in the dist folder. The former (it's also possible to install globally in your ~/.npmrc file), or the latter (it's a little more complex to set up, but should ensure that packages aren't accidentally installed in the wrong location – more on that in a moment) provide the ability to do some work using a script, and to restore the previous state of the package's state (using the reinstall script). Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Essayscollector
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on Jun 28, 2020 at 11:19 am

What Is The Purpose of Government?

What does government do?

Just a plain old purpose. That's it. The last word: Serve.

But what does "service" have to do with government? What purpose does government serve?

Well, they don't serve your own desires. They serve your own rights. And that is the true essence of government. The only time government even touches on your desires is when you want it to, because that's exactly the exact reason that you would be throwing in your lot with them. There would be no hope of understanding government if you didn't have the ability to see the world from their standpoint. Web Link

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