Since Head of School Tom Dillow announced the closure of school for the rest of the year, many students have questions about exams and how their final grades will be determined. On Monday, April 6, Head of the Upper School Dan Gleason and Head of the Middle School Ann Sciglimpaglia, released the new academic policy for online schooling. The official cancellation of school caused faculty and students to take a closer look at the new academic policy.
The new policy written up by Dr. Gleason and Ms. Sciglimpaglia emphasizes that despite learning remotely, major assignments and assessments should be completed to the best of the students’ abilities. Connectivity and accessibility concerns will not be held against students; however, if a major assessment in any class is not completed by a student, then they will be issued an Incomplete (I). Being given an Incomplete will trigger a plan for that student to complete the missed assignment over the summer.
Head of the Upper School Dan Gleason thinks that the academic policy emphasizes the importance of completing assignments but also allows for flexibility in different circumstances. “The reason we are maintaining the incomplete system is that we don’t want students to not hand in work and then still keep their third-quarter grade,” Dr. Gleason said. “Our hope is that students will try hard, work hard, and complete the material—but if you can’t, we will give you more time to finish it.”
The policy also highlights how semester grades will be calculated and what will factor into that grade. Specifically, if a student’s grade drops from the third to the fourth quarter in a certain class, and they have completed all major assessments assigned for that class, then their third-quarter grade will be their semester grade instead of both quarter grades being factored in. However, if a student possesses an Incomplete in the fourth quarter, then they will not be able to revert back to their mid-semester grade. Lastly, if the student’s grade is improved from the third to the fourth quarter, both grades will be factored into their semester grade.
Sophomore Lindsay Bailey believes that the new academic guidelines are great and provide a sense of insurance for every student who might be worried about maintaining grades during this period. “I like the new policy because it gives you security just in case you aren’t a person who works well with online learning,” Lindsay said. “It’s nice to know that you can’t do worse if you aren’t comfortable or something is going wrong.”
From an emotional standpoint, many students are feeling less stressed and worried about how online schooling might affect their grades at the end of the spring. Sophomore Lexi Vail shared her thoughts about how the grading policy has shifted her emotional outlook. “I think that it causes less stress, and knowing that I can’t do any worse helps me take a step back,” Lexi said. “I know if I can’t complete an assignment to the best of my abilities, I know it won’t take a toll on me or my grade.”
English teacher William Martino is in agreement with many of the students about the new academic policy. “Things are stressful enough as it is,” Mr. Martino said, “and to lighten the load a little bit seems in line with the mission of KO, which is to care for our students, and the whole student, and not just the academic side of things.”
The goal of the academic policy for online learning is focused around allowing for students who might be struggling and students who are doing really well to both benefit from it.
“There are a lot of changes that are happening now because of the pandemic,” Dr. Gleason said. “We wanted to make sure that students wouldn’t be unfairly penalized for those challenges outside of their control. At the same time, we know that some students do really well in the fourth quarter, so we wanted to craft a policy that both sides could benefit from.”