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Pleasanton school board to explore grading options

Original post made on Apr 16, 2020

A special virtual study session with the Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees on Thursday afternoon will explore grading options for end-of-term grading practices at the end of the school year.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, April 15, 2020, 7:49 PM

Comments (50)

Posted by J
a resident of Parkside
on Apr 16, 2020 at 6:43 am

Not telling my kid she has an As already in Q3 and can't go lower.. she needs to keep working.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 16, 2020 at 9:01 am

This decision should have been made shortly after shutting the schools so students and parents understood the expectations. It also would have allowed time for students to concentrate only on those classes where they might want to bring up grades. Schools shuttered on March 16. The board held a meeting April 1 and could/should have made this decision then.


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 16, 2020 at 10:45 am

Do not lower learning expectations. Continue to grade, we need to adjust the work and how to grade it in our environment, but there should be zero tolerance to lowering expectations around work


Posted by Julie
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 16, 2020 at 11:50 am

@Pleasanton Parent - my son's university is allowing a pass/fail option, because it recognizes that this online model doesn't work for all students and everyone is doing their best. Why wouldn't you want the same allowances for K-12 kids?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 16, 2020 at 12:22 pm

Julie, I don’t think pass/fail is an option for most of our community’s children. They worked hard for the grades that had until the schools closed. I am sure they continue to work hard for that final grade. Keeping the grade you had at 3rd quarter and working to raise that grade if necessary should be the only option. We are paying teachers; kids are doing the work; give them grades.


Posted by TZ
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2020 at 2:04 pm

I don't understand the logics to go for pass/fail grading. My daughter is motivated. She has been working really hard and bumped up her grades from Bs to As. The pass/fail option will probably motivate students differently. I am not sure how it's going to help students who are struggling with distance learning, but I am sure it will discourage students like my daughter.


Posted by TZ
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2020 at 2:07 pm

If online model doesn't work for some students, maybe you can lower the bar, but don't discourage students who want to go higher.


Posted by And the winner is...
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 16, 2020 at 2:23 pm

Option 1. I’m pretty sure it’s a done deal. Option 3 would also be a good solution. Pass/Fail (Option 2) is the worst solution as it will only demotivate all but the worst students but all create a playing field that isn’t level against schools who will continue to offer grades. Yes, many colleges will accept pass/fail, but an applicant with proven letter grades will give have an advantage. The perfect solution would be for parents to choose one of the three that best serves their students needs, but that won’t be a choice. The decision has most likely been made but there three options for optics.


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 16, 2020 at 3:58 pm

I don't agree with the "choose your own grading system" creates inequality in the system.

I don't agree with catering to the lowest common denominator, we should set a realistic bar that pushes education forward, not fall back because of this situation.

Its going to be harder, but relaxing expectations won't help anyone in the long run. Any solution we pick, should be a solution than in absence of this COVID event, is something we can say moves education forward


Posted by Jo
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 16, 2020 at 4:18 pm

TV28 Livestream is really bad


Posted by Potemkin
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Apr 17, 2020 at 6:20 am

Anyone know what the board decided?


Posted by Marc Acheson
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Apr 17, 2020 at 8:59 am

Hello, math teacher here. In my opinion, there's no 1 perfect option. One problem I see with still counting grades vs. pass/fail is validity. For example, I am seeing and hearing from other math teachers that some students who normally get B's and C's on quizzes and tests are now getting A's with remote learning and online quizzes/tests. Is that because they learn better without teachers? Or maybe they are getting help?

It's a tough situation all around, and I think we need to have adjusted expectations for the remaining school year.


Posted by Cassi
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2020 at 9:09 am

Marc, maybe their parents are doing a better job at getting them to study, not much else for kids to do, so the quality of work is better


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 17, 2020 at 9:35 am

Cassi, I think that is a real possibility. Parents are home with their children all day.

Marc, I appreciate your comments. I am especially worried for (a) seniors who are losing the “best” year of school and all the celebrations, (b) students in AP courses. Don’t take grades away from these young people on top of everything else they are stuck with (being home and with only social media to communicate with friends). Pass/Fail is a demotivator, even for students who might struggle. It becomes, “I don’t need to do any more than ‘this much’ in order to pass.” We cannot claim to be an excellent school system and settle for pass/fail. Especially if the only reason is we think some students may have unauthorized help.


Posted by Doodie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2020 at 9:57 am

How can any objective assessment be truly authentic in the remote learning environment? Last evening's grading policy decision by the school board was a premeditated farce with obvious pandering to the Pleasanton privileged. The snowflakes have worked so "hard". Please! All they're looking for is the GPA boost so they can get ahead of the competition and all PUSD is looking for is a way to prevent as few lawsuits as possible. I wonder who actually has integrity in this so called Community of Character?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 17, 2020 at 10:01 am

Doodie, what was the decision?


Posted by AVHS parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2020 at 10:47 am

Option 3 passed


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 17, 2020 at 11:05 am

AVHS parent, thank you! IMO, a reasonable choice.


Posted by Jess
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2020 at 11:29 am

What was option 3? I hope it is letter grades, especially for our high school students


Posted by AVHS
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 17, 2020 at 11:36 am

Option 3 - blended

Students receive letter grades A,B,C. Grades may not drop below 3rd quarter grades but may go up depending on student work.


Posted by TZ
a resident of another community
on Apr 17, 2020 at 12:14 pm

@Marc,
"For example, I am seeing and hearing from other math teachers that some students who normally get B's and C's on quizzes and tests are now getting A's with remote learning and online quizzes/tests. Is that because they learn better without teachers? Or maybe they are getting help?"


Sounds like you are making some accusations here. When students get better grades, the first thing you can think of is cheating. And it never occurs to you perhaps it’s because kids don’t have social life so they have more time to study now?

I am sure there are options there if you want to validate a test result. For example a one-on-one conversation with FaceTime.


Posted by Jo
a resident of Parkside
on Apr 17, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Really happy the kids are getting grades...


Posted by Ptown Mom
a resident of Avila
on Apr 17, 2020 at 6:51 pm

Doodie the Pleasanton privileged are the ones that bring the money to Pleasanton so all kids can go to good schools. If you don’t like it I suggest you move to a less “privileged” area and you won’t have to deal with us: my daughter has worked hard. She wants the advantages of grades. We don’t want to hurt other students who are less fortunate which is why option 3 is a good one. Everyone can get what they need.


Posted by Pleasanton parent
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Apr 17, 2020 at 11:32 pm

There are two camps. The families with kids doing well want grades, those that are not doing well want pass/fail. It is frustrating when you hear SF wants to give everyone A’s.
But my kids are not learning well. I am teaching math now as my middle schooler has no help. Only 3 of her teachers offer zoom/etc out of 7 maybe once or twice per week and she is much better off than my junior who only has one teacher out of 6 that does zoom/etc. Most of his teachers just assign homework with little or no explanation. He struggles on his quizzes and tests as he never learned it to begin with.
So if you have kids like mine who need help/explanation, their grades are dropping. While some of my kid’s teachers have really been amazing, there are others that haven’t updated Q in more than a month and don't seem to be involved at all. I know PUSD and the teachers were thrown into this and are doing the best they can, but there are some classes that will really just be a wash for my kids the rest of the year.


Posted by Jo
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 19, 2020 at 7:35 am

I can feel for you Pleasanton Parent. I agree and it's really sad to see some teachers are not doing enough. Zoom once or twice a week at most if at all... Really ? I see this with some of my own kids teachers and when you read more and more stories like this, I makes you think it's the norm and not the exception. Come on PUSD..you can do better.


Posted by Ptown Mom
a resident of Avila
on Apr 19, 2020 at 9:33 am

PUSD is doing a lot of self promotion. To cover that the teachers are not working. My kids teachers have been mostly MIA. Nobody helps if they have questions.


Posted by PUSD High School Teacher
a resident of another community
on Apr 19, 2020 at 9:42 am

I am certain that all Pleasanton teachers are doing the best that they can under the circumstances and complaining about us is hurtful when we're busy trying to figure out how to best serve the needs of all of our students and our own families. Very few of us are experts at remote teaching, and I think we're doing a good job with the short period of time we've had to modify our lessons and expectations. As a high school teacher, I'm trying to follow the guideline of 3 hours per week of student time, so a Zoom session or two falls in line with that expectation. Please be kind; this is a challenging time for all.


Posted by More ZOOM
a resident of California Somerset
on Apr 19, 2020 at 9:53 am

I'm with the parents above: Zoom is the be-all and end-all of teaching, and students should not be reading or working on things unless it's on a camera. What teachers do in classrooms is up to them, but if my kids are at home, they should be staring at a screen, am I right? Besides, as everyone knows, teachers are little more than babysitters who couldn't handle work in the real world, so they still need to be providing virtual day care so us real-world workers can focus on our own remote and actually important jobs. Unlike real people, teachers don't have to work around having their kids at home, work around conflicting internet and noise needs with their spouses, or take care of illnesses of their own or of their loved ones. Besides, the more cameras peeking into my home and streaming my children over the internet, the better, I say!

Give me Zoom or give me death!


Posted by P-Town
a resident of Amador Estates
on Apr 19, 2020 at 1:15 pm

Gotta give it P-Town. Reading parent reactions from other communities, they express appreciation for their teachers, realizing that independent work is necessary. Meanwhile, parents, in the new P-Town, do little but take shots, always expecting more with “real world” excuses. No wonder that so many who made this city have or will soon look to get out, find a more positive place where people respect & appreciate each other, sorta like the way P-Town use to be.


Posted by 50 Year Resident
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 19, 2020 at 7:11 pm

P-ton

You got it right.

As soon as I retire I’m out of here.

This city has been taken over by a bunch of rich, selfish and self important people that I no longer want to be associated with


Posted by David
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 20, 2020 at 8:05 am

@50-year resident: that’s all good. I’ve had a theory in the 20+ years I’ve lived here that this town would be better off with a lower proportion of townies. I’d welcome the chance to test that theory.


Posted by stop it
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 20, 2020 at 8:09 am

Stop criticizing teachers! They were given no notice that they were going to have to leave their classroom for a single computer. They now have to teach from home while many of them have their own families at home as well! They also have all the stresses we do WHILE teaching. They are also super disappointed school was shut down. School slowing down during this unimaginable pandemic is not the biggest stress in life. There's so much more about life to learn right now.....


Posted by Zoom streaming
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2020 at 8:48 am

If the Advanced Placement teachers on youtube can manage to have lessons streamed 45 -55 minutes a day nationwide, 5 days a week, why in the world can't PUSD teachers manage to do this as well? These Advanced Placement channel teachers are broadcasting 5 days a week while also managing their own class loads in their home states. And they have managed to pull together online classes in just a few days notice.

If they can have the organization skills to teach 5 days a week via Zoom, why can't PUSD teachers get their act together and do the same?

You notice that the Advanced Placement teachers on Youtube are mainly from the east coast and the midwest. Why are they so organized compared to PUSD teachers?

How refreshing it is to see the dedicated teachers on the Advanced Placement channel working very hard to consistently deliver instruction on a daily basis. Thank goodness for the Youtube Advanced Placement channel!


Posted by Why stop it
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 20, 2020 at 12:40 pm

We all face struggles. my job changed overnight too and I'm dealing with it. Teachers should be no different. PUSD teachers had a week (yeah not long) where they were supposed to be going to online training this and that? Right ? Then spring break to refine their skills. Personally I think spring break should have been cancelled.

Since option3 passed there are some kids out there that want to move from a B to A for example. Lets get them there and do your job. We need to prepare them for next year courses too, there is no time for a review come late August. Is PUSD going to be ready for next year ?

I realize my opinion might not be popular but it is what it is. I dont want to hear excuses anymore.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 20, 2020 at 1:35 pm

Why . . . It is a puzzling that while there are high expectations for students, people are criticized for having similar high expectations of the board, the administration, or teachers. While teachers are the closest to students, the board and administration are supposed to guide staff. When leadership falters, it creates chaos for everyone else. Yes, circumstances were unusual, but as a disaster drill, we will need to assess leadership first.

Cheers to the teachers who jumped in anyway because their students were counting on them for some sense of continuity.


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 20, 2020 at 1:51 pm

Kathleen,
Good point. While it would be great if each teacher took initiative to jump into a digital platform, I think you're right to point out the directive and path to doing so really should have been led from the top.
No fault to the staff for trying to scramble and do what they could immediately, but the "here's what each teacher is expected to do by X" should have come from the administration with expectation setting to the community.


Posted by PUSD High School Teacher
a resident of another community
on Apr 20, 2020 at 2:14 pm

Kathleen,
Just to clarify, the expectations for students have been lowered, or lessened, significantly for the rest of the school year. I won't debate whether that's good or bad, but the policy and guidelines change expectations to a level that is quite different for PUSD students and teachers.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 20, 2020 at 2:54 pm

Thanks HST, I have a grandchild in school here. There are highs and lows in the experience thus far. And I have nieces and nephews at a variety levels in other states. Some districts reacted faster than us; others, the kids are so young it is a bit of a challenge. I also have a sibling who is an assistant principal in another state. They are even doing PTA meetings on Zoom. What I hope not to see is—well, that’s over; back to the usual. I would hope there is reflection and advance planning for anything in the future that might keep students at home.


Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 20, 2020 at 2:59 pm

Whatever grading decision is determined to be the most effective...get it done. Seniors, I’ve talked too, already have been accepted and/or already know where they are attending next year.
Perhaps, these kids are smarter than you. It’s been said already by these young adults, if you do not have a plan in place, training for “all teachers” computer learning wise, support from parents, administration and staff, next year will not matter when no one shows for classes.
The chaos will be not organized for next year...!


Posted by Teacher
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Apr 20, 2020 at 3:33 pm

I think many of you who are criticizing teachers don't have all the facts:

1)We've been given a directive not to do synchronous teaching. This means no live Zoom sessions are allowed other than office hours, which I offer 2 times a week and have an average attendance of 3-5 students show up per session (I teach 160 kids.

2) We've also been directed to limit the work for each class to 3 hours per week. Within that 3 hours, there needs to be direct instruction, practice, and assessment. Let's just divide that in equal increments, so that gives 1 hour direct instruction, 1 hour practice activity, 1 hour assessment.

In addition, the entire work flow has changed. Instead of direct instruction, the bulk of our time is now spent creating new lessons that can be delivered digitally. It took me 4 hours yesterday to create an online activity that will take my students 15-20 minutes to complete. The other big chunk of our time goes to answering and sending emails. Every time a student doesn't turn in an assignment, there's an effort to check in on them and make sure they are ok.

All of this is just a different animal than before. It would be nice if our community supported us and understood we are doing our best in a less-than-ideal set of circumstances. Additionally, we have all of the same life stressors that everyone else is dealing with: anxiety and fear, family obligations and stressors...

People are doing their best. Be kind. Show grace. Please stop judging.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 20, 2020 at 5:11 pm

Teacher, I would not expect you to work with students outside your normal hours. I’m disappointed so few students “attend” your Zoom classes. I hope that is because a family member is able to help or you have 155 studious students. Understanding there are constraints on the ability to do more, it is unfortunate students are doing less for their grades. I appreciate what you are doing, and hope you will have the opportunity to provide feedback on what could/should change if this continues or happens again.


Posted by Jo
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 20, 2020 at 6:04 pm

Teacher.

Why some many restrictions? Seems like the administration does not have the right mindset at all. My daughter did zoom for math today, 7 kids including her, not so good considering I'm sure the class size is 30+.


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 20, 2020 at 7:06 pm

Teacher,
Thank you for sharing. I think the community is not getting what we expect in terms of continued education. To Kathleen’s point that communication is not coming from the administration.

I expected the classroom to transfer into zoom, not send home assignments. I expected my kids to be in front of a screen attending a live class.

Now, as a working parent and having kids at home I completely understand the difficulty this introduces.....but we are all figuring out how to do it.

I appreciate you bridging that communication gap.


Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 20, 2020 at 9:15 pm

According to the headline "Pleasanton School Board Will Explore Grading Options".
So, there is no decision?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 20, 2020 at 10:05 pm

Michael, option 3 was chosen. From the article: Using the blended option, students would receive letter grades of A, B, and C. Grades may not fall below the student's Quarter 3 grades, and may rise based on their work. Letter grades would be reflected on transcripts.

Students with D and F grades would earn credit/no credit, with the baseline being their Quarter 3 grades. Any student with failing grades in their third quarter could increase their grade to C or higher, based on their work. If the grades are unchanged, credit would be given for a D grade or no credit is issued for an F grade, "thereby reducing potential negative Grade Point Averages (GPA) impact for vulnerable students.


Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 20, 2020 at 10:27 pm

How will this decision impact future students in the PUSD system?
Example: Student has an illness, out of the classroom for full quarter.
Can this student expect and receive same at home schooling and grading?


Posted by Jo
a resident of Country Fair
on Apr 21, 2020 at 12:05 pm

MA,

Most likely not. Remember this is a special case and is district wide. I dont know what the current policy would be for a student in your example, but I doubt an option like option 3 is available. You need to ask the school.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Apr 21, 2020 at 12:13 pm

Accommodations are made. Depends on the illness of course. PAUSD works with children staying at Stanford hospital for example. Other cases are handled with families on a case by case basis.

I think this choice was the best one since we are addressing the needs of 15,000 students at the same time.


Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 21, 2020 at 2:05 pm

Why doesn’t the “country x is doing this” apply to our critique of how we’re approaching remote learning but it’s ok to use that comparison to other behavior modifications as a result of covid19?

Other countries are live streaming the full school day: why aren’t we? #loweredexpectations


Posted by Karl Aitken
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 21, 2020 at 2:10 pm

I hope the district is putting a full court press into identifying the right technology to use for effective remote education.

I have been using Webex for years as an employee at Cisco (full disclosure of my possible bias). I use it with my global team as a program manager and the company has used it for employee development classes. It is very good and designed for these types of applications.

I have only used Zoom a few times and while good for a b.s. session with friends or as a substitute for an in person meeting with the Pleasanton Lions, it doesn’t seem to be designed for educational activities .

There are many Cisco employees in Pleasanton that could probably help make the connection between the district and the Webex team. There is also a Cisco office in Pleasanton.

As I said in a post last week, it’s time for the school board to start working effectively in our new reality.

What are teachers, students and parents like Pleasanton Parent going to do if they are still using sub-optimal teaching technology/ tools in the Fall? Since there won’t be a vaccine until well into 2021, is the school board going to prepare for the high potential of more school shutdowns?

Isn’t it time to demand the school board take more effective action and adapt to this new reality?

We are in Silicon Valley, the technology center of the world. It’s unacceptable for action to not be taken and to put the education of Pleasanton’s children at risk. The technology exists if the school board asks for the help from experts.

I for one would vote for a bond or parcel tax if I saw there was a clearly defined plan to provide the technology to make remote learning a reality. It would need to be well documented, planned and with an exact budget and schedule.

No more ineffectual planning like the Amador Solar project or the lame technology updates they have tried (Chrome books for all - even those students who don’t need them).


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