RALEIGH — As students learn at home through online courses or by completing study packets, they can rest assured that the statewide closures of in-person public instruction will not negatively impact their ability to advance to the next grade level.

According to a policy update by the State Board of Education and the NC Department of Public Instruction, the public school system is prioritizing student engagement over evaluation. In order to accomplish this goal, educators will not assign a letter grade to students at the end of the semester. Rather, the students will be given a choice to either pass or withdraw from a course, depending on their grade level.

“We are in conversation regarding our process for high school course grades, where students have choices on how they want to proceed. The state is also providing ongoing support and recommendations which we’ll incorporate in our process,” Executive Director of Academic Services Ellis Ayers said. “Central to our efforts is placing the student in the best possible situation for them to be prepared moving forward. This is a difficult time where we have students and families overcoming tremendous circumstances. We’re working with students to have them emerge from these circumstances as ready as possible to resume their educational journey.”

Students in grades 9 through 11 and non-graduating seniors will be allowed to choose how each final course grade will appear on their transcripts for year-long and semester-long courses currently in progress. If a student opts to have a numerical grade, the highest level grade recorded between March 13 and the period of distance education will be recorded as the final grade. Otherwise, the student can choose to pass “PC19” or withdraw “WC19.”

Numerical grades will factor into a student’s cumulative GPA, whereas a pass or withdrawal does not. Students will not receive a failing grade or be retained unless a student’s retention consideration process was already under way for a student before March 13, as requested by NCDPI. As previously reported, students and seniors with failing grades prior to March 13 have been given opportunities for grade remediation throughout the period of distance learning.

Students in sixth through eighth grade will receive either a pass “PC19” or withdraw “WC19” for final course grades. A “PC19” will be assigned to any student who was passing their courses as of March 13, while a “WC19” will be assigned to students who were not passing their courses as of March 13 and were unable to improve their grade throughout the duration of distance learning.

Middle school students enrolled in high school level courses will also be given the option of choosing a numerical grade or choosing to pass or withdraw.

Students in grades K through 5 will not receive a final grade. Instead, teachers will provide feedback and evaluate individual student strengths based on academics and social factors to ensure a successful transition from remote learning back into regular schooling the following semester.

Meanwhile, students in Avery County can expect to see new leadership at several schools.

Due to to the retirement of Ruth Shirley from her position at Avery Middle School, Phillip Little will assume the role as principal of AMS beginning on July 1, 2020. According to Superintendent Dr. Dan Brigman, the change was made at Little’s request.

Veteran principal Ricky Ward will assume the position of principal at Avery High School, while Dr. Todd Griffin will become the new principal of Cranberry Middle at his request. Both individuals will also begin work in their new capacities on July 1, 2020.

“I feel confident that each of these leaders will prove effective as we strive to create a team approach for teaching and learning, building trust between the staff and administration and enhancing program offerings throughout our schools. Please join me in supporting each of these leaders as we prepare for the new academic year ahead,” Dr. Brigman said.

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