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How teachers and students are handling end of semester grades
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Lenny Diggs teaches pre-calculus at Gainesville High School on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. Photo courtesy Trailly Holland

While most teachers have already determined their students’ final grades for the semester, others are working to help kids catch up. 

Both Gainesville City and Hall County schools are offering the last few days before winter break as a time for makeup assignments and tutoring for those who need a little extra support. 

Kevin Bales, Hall’s assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, said while a lot of virtual learning students have flourished in academics this semester, many are behind. 

“They (teachers) want students to get caught up, and they want students to be successful,” Bales said. “We have a lot of teachers working double-time this week to get kids where they need to be before the end of the semester.”

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With all in-person classes canceled for Gainesville district students on Thursday, Dec. 17 and Friday, Dec. 18, Gainesville Superintendent Jeremy Williams said he has given teachers the option of conducting remote lessons with students to help “fill the gaps that still exist.”

“We don’t want to cut people off, and not give them the opportunity to improve,” he said. 

At Gainesville High School, Jamie Green, the schools’ principal, said instead of taking a high-stakes exam, students' final grades will be determined by their cumulative course average.

“To have a student that’s been out for 10 days on two occasions, and then say not take this final exam that’s 20% of your grade, we didn’t feel that was appropriate. We’re looking to see if students have mastered the standards.”

In Hall schools, Bales said the choice to assign a final exam varies from class to class.

State standardized end-of-course tests are anticipated to have a miniscule effect on students’ grades this semester.

Both Gainesville and Hall are waiting to see the final weight determined by the state Board of Education. End-of-course tests are normally worth 20% of final grades, but the new recommendation from Georgia Superintendent Richard Woods would drop the number to 0.01%.

“Right now where the state board is, they have that sitting for 30 days as an agenda item as a consideration for it to count 0.01%,” Bales said. “Districts can choose to do higher, but I don’t anticipate that a lot of districts will do that.”