The Student Newspaper of Paint Branch High School


The Student Newspaper of Paint Branch High School


The Student Newspaper of Paint Branch High School


MCPS Updates Grading Policy

Fifty Percent Policy Changes; Zeroes More Possible
Students at PB and throughout Montgomery County now face a slightly more stringent grading policy.
Mainstream Staff
Students at PB and throughout Montgomery County now face a slightly more stringent grading policy.

Forgot to turn in your project? Failed your test? Disregarded an assignment? In any of these scenarios, the expected grade you would receive is a zero–but not in Montgomery County Public Schools. For the past 18 years, MCPS has upheld a firm 50 percent policy to combat the grade–killing effect a zero has and provide more opportunity for students to keep their grades up. However, as of the second semester, MCPS has implemented a shift in how grades are determined that could have a significant impact on students.

The new MCPS policy calls for “cut-off” dates to be added to assignments in addition to due dates and deadlines. According to MCPS, any student who turns work in after the designated cut-off dates – which MCPS has set as March 4th and April 9th for the 3rd quarter – may receive a zero on an assignment. MCPS has kept in place their due date and deadline guidelines, which calls for teachers to accept student work after the teacher-designated assignment due date with no more than a 10% deduction. Students who do not turn in assignments by the deadline but do turn them in before the county-set “cut-off” date may receive a 50% on an assignment. This new policy replaces the previous 50 percent rule where students had a chance to to turn in work far past deadlines and still receive a 50 percent if a teacher had not established two-way parent-teacher communication. This old policy often frustrated teachers.

In 2006, MCPS launched their 50 percent rule policy, one that ensured that this would be the lowest grade a student could receive on any attempted assignments. This has become a significant policy for assignments in the All-Tasks (AT) category which accounts for 90% of a student’s grade. All-Tasks assignments include tests, projects, and other larger assignments. This policy was “designed to boost students who choose to rebuild their grades,” reports the MOCO Show. Additionally, “the rule has become a common one across U.S. public school districts.”

The original rule did not simply guarantee non-zero grades for students, however. The policy stated that students who don’t attempt an assignment or submit assignments after the set deadline by a teacher could be assigned a grade of zero as long as two-way communication took place between teachers and parents/guardians.

The MOCO Show explains that the new guidance allows teachers to “give students zeros for missing work [as long as] they contact the student’s guardians;’’ whereas previously “they had to contact the student’s guardian and receive a response.” These changes have eliminated the two-way parent-teacher communication and have opened up possibilities for more zeros to be administered. Overall “the change shortens the steps between a student missing an assignment and their receiving a zero and may substantially change the culture surrounding the 50 percent rule,” the MOCO Show concluded.

PB junior Eshitha Pedapudi doesn’t feel that the modified policy is “that big of a change” for her, “as someone who makes sure to submit my work on time.” She adds that the new policy “doesn’t really affect me.” However, for some students she believes that “it might be a shock” if they’ve become accustomed to the original 50 percent rule.

Similarly, Science Department Resource Teacher and AP Biology Teacher Mrs. Wertz feels that the new rule is “completely appropriate” explaining that “you can’t get grades for free…It requires effort.” In cases where students are putting in effort, but may be struggling in a class, the 50 percent rule “is applicable and should be in place,” she adds. No matter which policy is in place, Mrs. Wertz notes that students should always have to provide a “valid attempt in all work” before they earn a 50 percent.”

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About the Contributors
Abigail Alem, News Editor
I’m Abigail Alem, a junior here at Paint Branch. I enjoy reading, baking, and spending time with my friends and family. I am the ambassador for the Environmental Club and an active member of NHS and SNHS.  After hearing all about the PB Mainstream, I decided to join during my sophomore year. Mainstream has allowed me to write about topics that interested me and voice my opinion on a variety of issues. My hope for this year is to continue to write articles and take a deeper dive into writing. My pieces usually consist of student life, school issues, and some news pieces however, I’m hoping to expand on topics.  Hope you enjoy!!

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