LHS community responds to Hold Harmless grading policy

On April 6, the Rockwood School District (RSD) informed students and parents that the Hold Harmless grading approach would be implemented while students are continuing their education at home with the Alternative Learning Plan (ALP). 

A statement released by the RSD explained that work assigned during the time the ALP is implemented can not lower a student’s grade but rather can only be used to improve a student’s grade. In addition, second semester finals have been canceled. 

With the release of this information comes concerns from staff, parents and students.

“I think the grading policy will be helpful since we are learning in a different format than we are used to. It has taken some time to get used to online learning, and I think it would be difficult to truly assess what students are learning online,” junior Kathryn Wenger said.

While Wenger accepts the practicality of the grading plan, she also has concerns. 

My only concern is that I’ll lose my motivation and struggle through classwork I won’t even be tested on,” Wenger said. 

On the other hand, sophomore Vinay Sriramanane is concerned teachers won’t adhere to the Hold Harmless approach.

“I feel like there will be teachers that will still make all assignments and work count towards your grade even if it affects it in a negative manner,” Sriramanane said.

LHS parents have their own worries in regards to the grading plan and keeping their children motivated. 

The new grading plan should have been released at the beginning of May, not at the beginning of April. It is a challenge to keep students self-motivated during this crisis. Unfortunately, Rockwood just laid all their cards on the table and has nothing left to help promote student ambition,” RSD parent Barbara Zibits said.

Zibits expressed her concern that students will feel the repercussions of the ALP and Hold Harmless grading in fall of 2020.

“I am confident that Lafayette staff will make accommodations for their students to catch up,'” Zibits said. “However, our seniors are graduating, and I hope they have enough determination to plan their own path to success.” 

Allison Murphy, who has both a sophomore and senior attending LHS, notes how the grading plan takes into account students’ individual circumstances. 

The administrators and teachers who designed it seem to recognize that this is a uniquely challenging time for students between the social isolation from their friends and the move to 100% online education, among many other individual and family dynamics,” Murphy said. “At this point, I don’t have any worries regarding the new grading plan.”

Language arts teacher Jennifer Pautz shares in Zibits’ concern that students may pass their class with a D or higher but lack the sufficient skills for future courses. But she also recognizes the importance of easing students’ anxieties during an unprecedented time. 

“I believe there are students out there whose situations are dire and being asked to write an essay is just not something they feel is important at this time,” Pautz said. “So in those terms, I am grateful that Rockwood recognizes the importance of assisting students who will need that support. We have to recognize that each student requires something unique to help them deal with today’s and tomorrow’s and the next day’s anxieties.” 

While math teacher Jason Schneider is okay with students’ grades only getting better, he would prefer a different method of grading.

“I think I would rather have the grades be pass/fail. I don’t believe most letter grades are a good representation of what they know, so we should just make the whole system simpler,” Schneider said. 

Similar to the concerns of other teachers, parents and students, math teacher Katrina Clark is nervous students will take advantage of the Hold Harmless grading system.

“My hope is that students see the value in education and continue to participate in their best efforts moving forward this semester,” Clark said.

*Contributions from Hayden Cottrell and Corren Tipton