Superintendent's Letter to Families, Parents, Students, Staff - February 3, 2021
Students, Families, Teachers, and DPSCD Staff,
The following statement is starting to be a cliché, which I try to avoid; however, in this pandemic, unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. After a semester of online learning, we must make some changes to improve student motivation and attendance. Too many students are struggling for reasons they cannot control. We must do what we can to keep all of our students and families engaged in the learning process as fears and concerns related to returning to in person learning and teaching are addressed and overcome.
We created an Online Learning Task Force to review, adjust, and specify initial recommendations to improve online learning. This Task Force consisted of teachers, support staff, families, students, school based leaders, and community members. I deeply thank their engagement and involvement; their feedback led to the following initial recommendations for changes. More improvements and changes will be forthcoming.
The set of changes below will be implemented with the start of the second semester for at least the rest of this school year. Some of the changes will be retroactively applied to last semester. See below for those examples. I want to be clear and direct. This is NOT about lowering standards for our students or “watering down” expectations. Many school districts which are considered “higher performing” have implemented similar changes. More relevant and more importantly, these changes provide students and their families with evidence that as a district we are listening to them and their concerns, that we are problem solving to provide them with a path to be successful in these difficult times. No one, including students and families, is asking for something they have not earned. If the strongest critics of these changes take a minute to reflect on the changes and what they mean for student engagement, effort, and persistence then one would see that all grades are still EARNED and there is still accountability for students who are not attending online classes or engaging in their learning through the “No Credit” grade.
In addition to these changes, the district will be introducing incentives for students and families regarding outstanding and improved attendance.
Thank you for all that you do for our students!
Nikolai P. Vitti. Ed.D.
Detroit Public Schools Community District
- Graded assignments will be limited to one per subject in grades K-2 and two per subject for grades 3-12. 6-12 will include elective classes. This does not include quizzes or tests. Teachers will provide a breakdown of assignments and tests each Monday for the week. Additional assignments for advanced high school courses. Additional assignments can be issued but cannot be graded.
- Students may submit late assignments within a 10 school-day window and resubmit assignments for improved grades. Both must be done before the last 10 days of the quarter.
- Homework (outside of graded assignments to be completed after direct instruction) will be limited to reading assignments or studying.
- Students may retake quizzes and tests up to two times to demonstrate their understanding of the content.
- We will now use a “G” letter grade for credit (former “Ds” and “No Credit (NC)” in Grades 3-12 for “Fs”. “Fs” will be removed from transcripts and replaced with “NC” to prevent negative impacts on GPAs. “Ds” would become “Gs” and will generate credit but not impact GPAs. This will be retroactively applied to Semester 1 and Semester 2 grades through the district’s student information system.
- Students who earn a 50% or higher will earn a “G” (50-69% range, rather than 60-69%).
- Students attending and participating in 80% of the quarter’s classes cannot receive a grade lower than a "D" or "G"