Return to Headlines

State Board of Education Approves Changes To Student Grading, Teacher Evaluations, Student Athletics

Elizabeth Yelverton | NCASA Legal Affairs & Policy Manager


Members of the State Board of Education (SBE) met this afternoon in a conference call session to address certain time-sensitive issues arising from COVID-19, including student grading recommendations, teacher evaluation requirements, and changes to student athletics. While much of the meeting focused on the extensive proposed grading policy presented by DPI staff, Board members also discussed SBE/DPI legislative funding requests, which were presented later in the afternoon to members of the House Select Committee on COVID-19. The following reflects actions approved by SBE members during today’s meeting:

SLA 1 - COVID 19: Proposed Grading Policy

The SBE approved the following recommendations for statewide student grading:

  • Grades K-5:
    • Students will receive no final grade in grades K-5.
    • Instead of a final grade, teachers will provide year-end feedback for students regarding learning from the full academic school year, using a format determined locally.
    • Teachers will document individual student strengths and needs from both an academic and social/emotional perspective to ensure an effective transition from the spring 2020 remote learning process to the 2020-21 academic year.
  • Grades 6-8:
    • Students will receive a Pass “PC19” or Withdrawal “WC19” for the final course grades for all middle school courses.
    • A student’s grade will be held harmless for learning after March 13.
    • PC19 will be assigned to any student who was meeting expectations and passing the course as of March 13 or who worked to improve to the point of passing after March 13 through remote learning.
    • WC19 will be assigned to any student who was not passing the course as of March 13 and who was unable to improve to the point of passing the course through remote learning opportunities. A middle school course grade of WC19 does not equate to a failing course grade nor does it indicate that a grade retention should occur or that the course must be repeated. The grade WC19 simply indicates a lack of evidence of mastery of standards addressed in the particular content area.
    • Teachers will document individual student strengths and needs from both an academic and social/emotional perspective to ensure an effective transition from the spring 2020 remote learning process to the 2020-21 academic year.
    • High school courses taken in middle school will follow the grading options presented below for high school students, with the understanding that if there is a numeric grade on the transcript it will not be calculated in the high school GPA per SBE policy, Course for Credit, CCRE-001.
    • Due to COVID-19, NCDPI developed a new grade scale in PowerSchool to move from Pass/Fail to Pass/Withdraw. “PC19” and “WC19” have been added into PowerSchool.
  • Grades 9-11:
    • Students in grades 9-11 and non-graduating seniors will be awarded final grades based on the following grading system for the 2019-20 school year.
    • Current Spring 2020 Courses:
      • Students will be given a choice for how each final course grade will appear on the transcript for both year-long and semester courses currently in progress.
      • Students will have two options for each final course grade: (1) Numeric grade, the highest grade representing learning as of March 13 or as improved through the semester as remote learning continued; OR (2) PC19 or WC19.
      • Students will determine how each final course grade will appear on the transcript at the end of the semester after advising from the teacher/school and in consultation with the parent/guardian.
      • When students choose to report a numeric grade as the final grade on the transcript, the numeric grade will be calculated into the cumulative GPA, following the guidelines in SBE policy GRAD-009.
      • When students choose to report a PC19 or WC19 as the final grade on the transcript, there is no GPA impact when using these grades.
      • When students in a yearlong course choose a PC19 or WC19 for the spring portion of the course, the fall term grade will be counted into the GPA. Clear directions for PowerSchool will come at a later date.
  • Student Promotion and Retention:
    • Student promotion and retention will remain the decision of the school principal and staff.
    • NCDPI recommended that districts/schools only consider retention of students if the retention consideration process was already well underway for a student prior to March 13, 2020.
    • If a student was being considered for retention prior to March 13 and is still being considered for retention, NCDPI strongly encourages the development of a local plan to ensure effective communication and collaboration between the school and family to determine the most effective path forward for the student, especially given these extraordinary circumstances that students/families find themselves in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and extended school closure.
  • SBE Policy GRAD-009: High School Transcript Standards—NCDPI recommended temporary amendment of this policy through June 30, 2020.
    • Sections of this board policy addressing grading scale and GPA calculations require temporary amendment to accommodate the SBE’s decisions on both the Graduating Senior (SBE approved March 27, 2020) and K-11 grading systems to be used statewide to complete the 2019-2020 school year during the COVID-19 pandemic.


COVID 19 - Teacher Evaluation

The SBE adopted the following actions in relation to educator evaluation:

  • The evaluation process in NCEES, as prescribed in SBE policy, shall be followed for those teachers for whom all required observations have been conducted on or before March 13, 2020.  Other required steps (e.g., post-observation conference) may be conducted in a virtual setting without jeopardizing the validity of the evaluation process.
  • The evaluation process for teachers who have not received all required observations shall be abandoned and no summative ratings shall be entered into the NCEES system.
  • The SBE and NCDPI will use the most recent, valid summative rating for any teacher who did not receive a summative evaluation in the 2019-2020 school year.  The most recent, valid summative evaluation will be used for reporting (federal and state), research, licensure renewals or conversions, and any other reporting obligations of the State Board or NCDPI.
  • The governing bodies of public-school units may consult with their attorneys and staff to develop a process by which a recommendation for the renewal/non-renewal of employee contracts may occur.  The State Board of Education recognizes the local governing body’s authority to make contract decisions for its employees and considers that process to be separate from the required evaluation process. 
  • The State Board of Education encourages public schools to work with their local boards of education and boards of directors in developing local processes related to contract renewals.


HRS 1 - COVID-19: Athletic Policy Considerations

The SBE gave approval to the following actions regarding athletic policy considerations:

  • Athletic Academic Eligibility—Regardless of the school organization pattern, a student who meets Local Education Agency (LEA) / Charter School Promotion standards for the 2019-2020 academic year automatically meets the courses passed requirement for the first semester of the 2020- 2021 academic year.
  • Temporary Extension of Valid Preparticipation Examination (PPE)—All student athletes who have a valid Preparticipation Examination (PPE) form for the 2019-2020 season will be allowed a one-year extension through the end of the academic year 2020-2021. An athlete planning to participate in a sport during the 2020-2021 season without a current PPE form (date of physical 4/1/19-5/1/20) will need to obtain an evaluation/physical before they will be allowed to participate.


BSOP 1 - Legislative Funding Requests

The SBE approved numerous legislative funding requests relating to various areas impacted by COVID-19, which can be read in full by clicking here. These requests were further discussed later in the afternoon during a meeting of the House Select Committee on COVID-19.


Elizabeth Yelverton