Apparently, there is now a Minnesota middle school that is no longer going to give students an “F” grade in an attempt to combat what they call “systemic racism.” They enacted these new policies after an “equity audit” and they purportedly found “grading disparities among students of color.”
Sunrise Park Middle School in White Bear Lake announced that the teachers are now no longer going to give “F” grades to students. For the 2021-2022 school year, the test scores of 59.49% are no longer an “F” or a failing grade, but they are now considered a grade of “I”. No matter how low the score could possibly be – even if it is as low as 0% – they will only be termed as a grade of “I” from here on out.
“Our whole intent is to ensure that grades focus on the process of learning,” Principal Christina Pierre said in a YouTube video explaining the new school policies. “Therefore, grades will not include behaviors, attitude, tardiness to class, whether the assignment was turned in late or on time. There’s other ways that we can communicate those things to parents.”
In the video, Associate Principal Norman Bell said that they are encouraging retake and revise tests, quizzes, papers, and others projects within a 10-day window.
Sunrise Park Middle School is a part of the White Bear Lake Area Schools (WBLAS) district just outside of St. Paul. District superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak has said that “grading can be one of the largest areas of systemic racism.”
This district has “conducted an equity audit, and in light of the killing of George Floyd and how conversations across the nation have evolved during this past year.”
These revelations were made in an announcement about Kazmierczak and how he was named the 2021 Minnesota Superintendent of the Year on the WBLAS website.
An example from the equity audit was the grading disparities among students of color. Grading can be one of the largest areas in which systemic racism and inequalities are perpetuated. Dr. Kazmierczak and WBLAS believe grades should be a measure of what a student knows and has mastered in a given course. Grading should not be a behavior punishment and should not be a measure of how well a student can survive stress at home. Under Dr. Kazmierczak’s leadership and in line with the district’s strategic plan and commitment to eliminating systemic racism, the district began tackling grading disparities a year ago when they dramatically changed their grading practices. Leaders in the district know that they will be supported as they have never been before because of the strategic work that has already been done all through the lens of equity.
At the date of this writing, it is not clear whether the new grading scale is going to be used on a district-wide basis.
The Sunrise Park Middle School recently made national headlines last March after they made a “social-emotional lesson” about “oppression.” The choir teacher at the school also made waves because he separated the students based on either “targeted” or “privileged” categories.