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The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

The Student News Site of Richard Montgomery High School

The Tide

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New MCPS grading policy goes into effect

An+RM+student+checks+their+grades+following+the+implementation+of+new+grading+guidelines+by+MCPS.+
Claire Xu
An RM student checks their grades following the implementation of new grading guidelines by MCPS.

MCPS published an updated grading policy in December of 2023, but a majority of RM students heard about it for the first time during their advisory lessons on Jan. 24. The new policy will be implemented starting the first day of the second semester, Tuesday Jan. 30, 2024 and will remove the 50% rule from during the pandemic era.

During the pandemic, MCPS updated their almost decade old 50% policy to give students extra support during difficult times. A student would receive no less than a 50% on an assignment or test regardless of completion, submission, or accuracy. This rule has been implemented to varying degrees at RM since the return of in person school and has been subject to debate. 

The pre-pandemic policy MCPS is returning to is slightly different. The 50% rule still applies to tests, meaning students cannot receive lower than a 50% on a test, but this rule has been removed for all other assignments. 

Under the new provisions, if a student does not submit a 90% category All Tasks assessment, the teacher of the class is required to attempt to contact the parents of the student at least once. If the student still fails to submit the assignment, the teacher will then be able to assign the student a zero for that assignment. 

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Teachers and students expressed that the pandemic policy acted as a “false-safety” students would not have in college, leaving them unprepared for the real world. Many also believe that this could hinder students’ learning by allowing them to earn a passing grade without putting effort into learning the subject. However, this may have been helpful to students going through extenuating circumstances during the pandemic.

“I thought this was not a policy RM intended on keeping,” biology teacher Bessy Albaugh said.

Some students and teachers agree that the implementation of the policy can boost learning and have positive effects on students’ work ethics, but the decision to implement the change mid year is being questioned.

 “I understand it’s for a new semester, but it’s still kind of a disruption to how things are going within this school year,” history and TOK teacher Kerri Fry said. 

Students and teachers have expressed that it is uncharacteristic for MCPS to implement a policy mid-year that is different from what students have considered the standard. Many also feel that it is unreasonable to give teachers so little time to plan and organize according to a new grading policy.

 “I think that there should have been earlier notice. It seemed like the [school] district thought that we could instantly implement all of the measures, when realistically, even though there are district standards, there’s always still school-based decisions that need to be made.” environmental science teacher Stacey Boccher said. 

According to Ms. Boccher, the new policy was discussed by RM’s leadership team throughout December, but teachers were only informed later.

“The implementation of this new policy was confirmed to teachers after winter break, giving them limited time to execute it, possibly causing some discrepancies in the application of the policy. Ms. Boccher said.

RM administration is planning how to make the mid-year transition easier for students and staff. 

“I think in considering as a school leadership team, trying to make the impact for staff and students as manageable as possible, we’ve landed with what I think is the best we can do, which is always our job. Our job is always to take policy from Montgomery County and to make it applicable for our staff and students in an appropriate and supportive way,” Magnet Coordinator Joseph Jelen said. 

In the past, there have been issues with the policy in making contact with the parents, prompting discussion surrounding if the responsibility to inform parents should lie on teachers.

 “I don’t like the idea of parents getting emails if you forgot to submit something on time,” junior Ella van der Walde said. 

The other controversial topic this policy aims to combat is grade inflation. Grade inflation is a nationwide issue and is defined by students receiving higher grades when doing less rigorous work. Under the pandemic era 50% rule policy, it was not required students to do the amount of work most would consider necessary to earn a passing/good grade. 

“I think that grade inflation is something that we have to have an honest conversation about because at the end of the day, it doesn’t help anyone. It doesn’t communicate to students what they know and are able to demonstrate in a class. It doesn’t communicate to families and to colleges what students know and are able to demonstrate,” Mr. Jelen said.

Some RM staff members believe that the new revisions are likely to have a positive impact on students as the new policy attempts to combat grade inflation. 

“I’ve always appreciated that Richard Montgomery has been a place to have honest conversations with ourselves and we’ve always been a school that leads with students first and in considering and being thoughtful about how policies land for students… I think that that’s been a useful thing that we’ve done at Richard Montgomery, is not shy from asking questions and asking hard questions of ourselves, but also of central office as well,” Mr. Jelen said.

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About the Contributors
Bella Major, Video Editor
Christiana Vucea, Graphics Editor
Christiana Vucea is a senior and an editor for the graphics section this year! She has been doing graphics since freshman year and is excited for new features coming to the Tide this year. When she’s not doodling something, she can be found either sleeping or stressing over physics homework.
Claire Xu, Print Managing Editor
Claire Xu is excited to spend her senior year as the Print Managing Editor of The Tide. She spent two years as editor and writer for the Arts section. In her free time, she enjoys mini crosswords and scrolling through Wikipedia.