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Virginia HS lowers standards so much that students don’t even need to try on final exams or complete assignments on time

David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

A school district in northern Virginia is making sure students don't fall behind during the COVID-19 pandemic by discounting bad final exam grades and no longer requiring students to complete homework assignments on time.

What are the details?

In an email to parents on Thursday, Alexandria City High School Principal Peter Balas reminded parents about adjusted grading policies passed by district board members last month that aim to "mitigate the impact of the pandemic" on students.

The policies — which effectively make it so that students don't need to try at all on final exams or worry about completing homework assignments — sound like a lazy high school student's dream.

"A final exam for a year-long or semester course will only be counted if it does not lower the student’s final grade for the course," Balas noted, adding, "The lowest grade that may be awarded on a final exam is 50%."

As for missing work, Balas recited that "a one-week minimum grace period with no penalty will be used for all assignment deadlines."

Moreover, students who fail to complete the assignment during the grace period due to verified absences or quarantine are allowed to turn in the assignment for full credit up until two weeks before the end of the quarter. And students who fail to complete the assignment without a verified absence can still turn in the assignment later for up to 80% credit.

Beyond that, "Students will be provided with an automatic opportunity for reassessment on any assessment for which a grade of D or less was earned," for which a maximum revised grade of 80% can be earned.

The full policy document implemented by Alexandria City Public Schools can be viewed here.

Why does it matter?

The COVID-19 pandemic's negative effect on students' academic achievement has been well-documented. And a large majority of parents remain concerned that schedule disruptions will result in their children falling farther behind academically — especially as schools across the country have moved once again to close classrooms in recent weeks over "teacher burnout."

But lowering standards as much as Alexandria City Public Schools has may certainly be considered a questionable approach to addressing the problem.

"I'm glad Alexandria City Public Schools took the time to translate their complete surrender of all academic standards into four separate languages; it's like a Rosetta Stone of mediocrity," tweeted National Review's Jeff Blehar.

"So grades are not earned but are now awarded. Scary," another user commented.

"Man I WISH my finals were ever like this," still another added.

What else?

In their policy release, board members claimed they instituted the policy changes "to recognize the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on ACPS students, and to address learning loss due to the 2020-2021 school closures."

"Such changes are intended to ensure maximum flexibility and benefit for students while maintaining opportunities for mastery of content standards," they added.

TheBlaze reached out to the district with further questions but has yet to receive a reply.

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