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Resources for Families and an Update on Grading

Dear Parents, Guardians, and members of the Newmarket community,

I am sure you are looking forward to this much awaited mini spring-break. I wanted to share a few items of interest before the break begins.

State Resources Available to Families
The Division for Children, Youth and Families has published a list of resources available to residents who may need support. Support areas include financial, food, housing, crisis, substance abuse, child care, and CVID-19

Technology Support 
To support you at home, we would like to develop webinars or drop-in sessions based on your common topics of interest.  Please complete this Google form so that we can tailor the programming to fit your needs.  

Newmarket Spirit Day
Next Wednesday, please show your Newmarket spirit by wearing red, black and/or other Newmarket clothing to celebrate your community and school pride. This will be the first of several community connection events we are planning for the upcoming month. Stay tuned.

Super Mule, our school mascot, has a message to share with you. Click here

Grading - 4th quarter (JSHS) and third trimester (NES)
Last Thursday, April 16th, the School Board approved an alternative grading plan for the 4th quarter and third trimester of this school year. Below are the highlights of the plan for the two schools. 

NES: We have identified a fair and simple way to document each student’s remote learning experience. Report cards will remain as is and will represent trimesters one and two. Trimester three will be a separate assessment which will include a brief narrative for each student, along with a Pass/Fail grade for essential academics. For grades PreK- 2, these will be Language Arts and Mathematics. Grades 3-5 will also include Science and Social Studies. Unified Arts will give one combined Pass/Fail grade. 

NJSHS: NJSHS is moving to a Pass/Fail grading model for all 4th quarter classes. This change will allow teachers and students the opportunity to focus on teaching and learning the essential skills students need to master. Teachers have pared down the curriculum to cover only essential skills and concepts. Next week, teachers who have not already done so, will review fourth quarter expectations with students. In order to earn a passing grade, students must demonstrate mastery of these essential skills.

The P or F would appear on the student’s report card but will not have an impact on their overall grade point average (GPA). If a student passes 4th quarter, the course grade for second semester will be the student’s 3rd quarter grade. Essentially, all grades and the overall GPA will be frozen at the end of 3rd quarter. For this reason, students whose 3rd quarter grades were significantly impacted by the transition to remote learning have had the opportunity to receive an Incomplete for Q3 allowing them some time to revise and/or or make up work that they missed during that time.  

We will be offering students credit recovery opportunities over the summer to pull up any 4th quarter failing grades to passing, so students can receive credit for any class they failed. 

Will Pass/Fail Grades Affect My Chances of Getting into College?
The Commissioner of Education has reached out to all colleges and universities in the state as well as the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) and asked them if going to a pass/fail grading system in the fourth quarter will negatively impact a student’s college applications, admissions, and/or scholarships opportunities. The answer from all these institutions was an emphatic, no. Pass/Fail will not affect a student's application or scholarship eligibility. 

Most schools already have a holistic approach to the application review and admissions process and look at the entire student application (courses, co-curricular, out-of-school experiences, essays, letters of recommendation, etc.) when making admissions decisions.  Colleges that do not have a holistic approach in place now are actively reviewing and modifying criteria for the upcoming application season. Below are statements released by several College and Universities that clarify their understanding of these unique times and their commitment to reviewing prospective student applications.

UNH supports the decisions made by high school faculty and administrators regarding what grading methods they think most appropriate given the academic adjustments required by the public health challenges we are all facing.  Accordingly, we are deferring to what the high school believes most appropriate for grading methods in the spring semester 2020. Students should still take full course loads, do as well as they can, and take courses pass/fail based on advice from teachers and school counselors.  Both core and elective courses can be completed as pass/fail.  Our guiding principles are to be flexible in these atypical times, not hold students accountable for things beyond their control, but still expect them to engage their school work to the best of their ability (acknowledging that circumstances will not be consistent for all students based on home arrangements/dynamics, access to internet, etc.).  Students must still take required courses needed for admission and/or the major they hope to study.  If a student presents, in our opinion, too much ‘F’ achievement, admissions staff will consult with school counselors for additional detail and context of the student’s experience.

Yale University: Just as secondary schools take a diverse set of approaches to curricula and assessment during normal times, schools are taking a diverse set of approaches when responding to the outbreak. We expect that many transcripts will look different for at least the spring 2020 semester. Regardless of your school’s decisions, we will work to understand your school’s unique context and will not penalize students whose transcripts lack letter grades. It may be helpful to know that Yale does not re-calculate or re-weight grade point averages to a uniform scale.

Brandeis University: If your school decides to move to an alternative grading system (i.e. pass/fail, credit/no credit), our office is fully prepared to accept these changes as made by individual schools. Any information explaining these changes is always welcome, whether on the transcript itself or in a communication from your school counselor.

Georgetown will be flexible and understanding regarding the transition many of you are making to virtual learning environment. We also understand that the school year has come to an abrupt end for others. We anticipate that some of you will receive traditional grades for this semester and other simply be issued a pass/fail grade Whatever the scenario you are facing, rest assured that we will work with you and your school counselor as needed. Individual schools and school districts are making decisions for their student populations that we will respect and honor when reviewing your transcript.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Principal Pine, Assistant Principal DeStefano, or Assistant Principal Denham.

Enjoy the first spring hiatus from remote learning!

Susan K. Givens, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

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