Welcome to Duxbury High School

  •  April 16, 2020

     Dear Students and Families, 

    I am writing to you today to share how Duxbury High School will be dealing with the third and fourth grading periods.  Over the last three weeks, the teachers and administrators across the district have been working together to create a solution that is in the best interest of all students during these incredibly challenging times.  

    At the forefront of our thinking as we developed this plan was that our solution could do no harm to a student.   Second, given the realities and complexities of this closure, we do not have to assess our students' work, in the same manner, we do when school is open.  When we return to school, which I hope is very soon, we want to make sure that whatever decision we made was flexible enough to last through the duration of the school year.   

    On Wednesday, April 15, 2020, the School Committee voted to accept the following modifications to the grading policies for the second semester at DHS.  

    Term 3 (January 21-March 13) Any work that was assigned and submitted by students before the closure will be graded and included in their term three grades.  Work that had been assigned but was due after March 13, 2020 will not be included.  

    Term 4 (March 30-June 22) As previously communicated, beginning March 30, 2020 all assigned work will be counted toward a rating of credit/no credit in each course.  In the near future, assignments will be visible to parents and students in the Aspen portal and you will be able to track your student’s progress on their work in the same manner you are used to.  We will continue with the credit/no credit grading system for the duration of the fourth term whether we are able to reopen or are ordered to remain closed. The teachers, guidance counselors, assistant principals and I will continue to make contact with students who are not completing their work as assigned. 

    Final Exam Periods - 

    We have made the decision to cancel the senior and final exam periods.  This decision is based on our desire to prioritize teaching and learning when we return to school over summative assessments.   

    GPA/Report Card Implications: Due to the timing of the closure, third term grades are an incomplete reflection of the workload which had been assigned; much of which had yet to be turned in.   Therefore, we have made the decision not to include the third term as part of the weighted GPA calculation for students. Students will be able to choose whether to have their grade as of March 13, 2020, appear on their report card/transcript or choose a designation of credit/no-credit instead.  The term three averages are currently visible in ASPEN and I ask that your students notify their teachers by Tuesday, March 28, 2020, only if they would prefer the credit/no credit designation, so that we can publish report cards on May 1, 2020. 

    We came to this decision after modeling the impacts of including the third term on the GPA of all students.  What our models demonstrated was that including term three would benefit some students however it would also negatively impact others. This inequitable outcome does not match with our district’s core value of putting “students first” and therefore we made the decision to base all GPA calculations for this year on the first semester (the midyear average which includes term one, term two and the midterm exam grade). These grades will also appear as the final grade on each student’s transcript.  The weighted GPA will be calculated using that final grade. Another implication of this plan is that half-year unweighted courses (electives, PE, FCS, Tech, Art, Music) in the second semester will also not be included in our students' unweighted GPA.

    Implications for College Admissions: A rational concern for all of our students, but especially those in the junior class, is what the implications of making adjustments to how DHS will be reporting grades, like those specified above, as they prepare to apply to schools next fall.  It is important to remember that these are not local issues, as every public high school student in the state of Massachusetts and nearly all students across the nation are in the same situation. Colleges and universities are also facing these same challenges with their current students and our grading model mirrors the model adopted by many schools across the country. Therefore, we will be modifying our School Profile and reporting these changes to the many colleges and universities our students have and will be applying to over the next four years. Our guidance department will be sharing information about individual changes to the admissions process next fall to members of our junior class as they are announced by colleges and universities  and I would encourage students and families to engage their guidance counselor with any questions they may have.  

    At-Risk Students Duxbury High School has a responsibility to find ways to support our students who were in danger of not graduating or who had failed a course in the first semester and who are particularly at risk during this period of closure. Therefore, the teachers, counselors, and assistant principals of DHS will be contacting and collaborating with these students and their families to develop individual pathways (requirements) toward earning credit for the year and/or graduation.  As part of this effort we will be waiving the minimum eligibility score (55) this year for all students.

    In closing, I appreciate your patience as we developed this plan that we believe is in the best interest of all of our students.  Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have at jimdonovan@duxbury.k12.ma.us and I will get back to you as soon as possible.  To the many parents and family members who continue to serve our community in their “essential” professions, on behalf of the faculty and students of Duxbury High School, I would like to thank you for the extraordinary work you are doing.

    I hope you and your family have a restful April break,  

    Sincerely,  

    Jim Donovan

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