North Carolina Seniors to still graduate, despite Coronavirus pandemic

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If you’re a senior in North Carolina, guess what? You’re still getting that diploma…and state school officials are not letting COVID-19 stop you from being great!

You may not take that senior trip, or go to the senior prom, but you will have something that will take you a long way, and that’s your DIPLOMA.

North Carolina Public Schools have decided to drop the use of traditional letter grades on spring courses for high school seniors due to schools being closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The recommendation was approved Friday by The State Board of Education. This granted recommendation will pass high school seniors if they were passing as of March 13– the final day before school was closed. Seniors will get a note on their transcript that they received a passing graded for those classes as opposed to a traditional A-F letter grade.

The state board has also decided to temporarily suspend the ability of school districts to require more than a minimum of 22 credits required by the state for graduation.

We don’t want our seniors to feel an undue burden, Sneha Shah Coltrane, DPI director of advanced learning an gifted education said. We want them to graduate on time.

Under this newly granted policy, grades from fall courses will still count for a grade point average for seniors. If seniors are taking a year-long class, the grade from the fall semester will count toward the GPA. But grades from spring courses won’t be included in a student’s GPA. The only question will be if they passed them or not. 

State educators say if seniors had an F as of March 13, they’ll get a withdrawal code for the class, meaning they won’t get credit. But school districts are to give those seniors a chance to pass by offering remote learning opportunities and a locally developed final test based on what was taught up to March 13.

Our intent is that students are focused on passing courses, Shah Coltrane said. That additional burden and stress of GPA and grading on a traditional sense are lifted for them. Their mindset is on just a very different place right now.

Coltrane said the new guidelines don’t leave much incentive for seniors who’ve passed to keep learning. She said seniors should use the time to do research projects and research their next steps including thinking about “their place in the community and world right now.”

If a senior feels like they are not able to continue for whatever reason we would hold them harmless, she said.

DPI is ensuring seniors that the state’s colleges and universities support the change in the grading scale. 

Those seniors who are still wanting to take their Advanced Placement classes, which can result in them getting college credit based on how well they don on the AP exam is still on. 

Coltrane said the College Board is switching to at-home testing this year. 

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE CLASS OF 2020.

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