GASD releases grading guidelines for online learning


Many parents have been wondering how their children’s online coursework will be graded or how it will count toward graduation for the current school year. While some questions still remain, the Greater Amsterdam School District released guidelines last week that show how students’ participation will be recorded on their report cards.

According to documents provided by Sandra Polikowski, director of testing and academics, teachers will select one of two classifications to describe a student’s online work in the comments section on their report card: Evidence of Learning (EOL) or Not Yet Learned (NYL).

Definitions of the terms according to the document:

EOL: Student has demonstrated evidence of learning based on participation and completion of assignments through remote learning.

NYT: Student has not yet demonstrated evidence of learning based on participation and completion of assignments through remote learning.

For students in grades pre-k through grade 5, the third trimester will be graded based on the above criteria. For students in grades 6-12, the criteria will be applied to the fourth quarter.

The document also indicates that for students in grades 6-12, their third quarter grade will be based on in-school instruction through March 13. It notes that students have until May 15 to submit missing or incomplete work for third quarter.

When reached for comment on Wednesday, Interim Superintendent Dr. Raymond said that the district started with state recommendations but adapted them to the district.

“Grading is a local policy. The state may give you guidelines, but it’s up to us,” said Colucciello.

He emphasized that his philosophy during the closure of school classrooms is to “do no harm” and that there would be “no penalty” for any student who was unable to complete online assignments for any reason. On the other hand, he felt that students who are successful in keeping up with the assignments should receive some sort of “extra credit”.

“Throughout the whole state they are finding out that tons of kids, depending on poverty level, are not engaged in this tele-teaching,” said Colucciello. “Where there’s poverty, you may be missing 20,30, 40% of their class.”

To make sure students have access to online learning, he said the district has passed out Chromebooks to approximately half of the student population and provided wireless hotspots for families with no internet. Printed copies of lesson materials have also been provided when needed.

The district also released a suggested weekly schedule with the caveat that it could be adjusted “based on your individual and family needs.” According to the schedule, assignments for students in grades K-5 may take approximately one hour per day, with and additional 30 minutes required for reading, music, gym or art activities. For middle school and high school students, two hours a day are recommended for assignments, with an additional 30-45 minutes for gym, health, art, music and other lab work, and another 30 minutes for reading and “social-emotional learning/wellness activities.”

Amsterdam schools were closed on March 16 in response to the growing COVID-19 epidemic. In April, the district officially began online learning efforts. On Friday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that schools would continue to be closed through the end of the school year.

Editors Note: When I spoke to Dr. Colucciello on Wednesday, he said the district intended on posting the policies publicly on Thursday. As of today, I don’t find those documents on the district Facebook page or website. Whether that indicates the policies are still not finalized, I’m not sure. I will follow up on that and have already submitted follow-up questions in regards to what criteria teachers will use to determine EOL or NYT and what type of extra credit students who remain up-to-date with their assignments might receive. It’s also not clear what effect an NYT would have on a student’s grade advancement or graduation. I’ll keep you updated as to what information I receive back.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.