Some Minnesota school districts made changes to grading systems during pandemic to help protect GPAs, they may not go back

For some school districts, there may be no turning back.

“I think it’ll be difficult to go back to something that’s more restrictive and less individualized,” said Kate Wilcox-Harris, chief academic officer for St. Paul Public Schools, which has a work group exploring permanent grading changes.

After Gov. Tim Walz ordered schools closed in March 2020, the St. Paul district converted all third- and fourth-quarter D’s and F’s into passing grades so that high schoolers would stay on track for graduation.

For the 2020-21 school year, the Minnesota Department of Education urged schools to maintain a “do-no-harm” philosophy. Students, the department said, should get to choose the option of receiving a letter grade if it’s going to help their grade-point average, or a pass/fail grade if it won’t.

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“During this time of COVID-19 and beyond, families, students and educators must be given choices in assessment and grading,” the department said in a guidance document last summer.

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St. Paul followed that advice, offering students the option of converting D’s, C’s and even B’s into grade-point-neutral P’s, for

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