Dear SAU 70 School Community, (especially those of you affiliated with HHS!)
I am writing to assure those of you who have contacted me regarding grading at Hanover High School that I am reading your messages. Rather than responding individually to so many students and families, I thought it best to let you all know how I am approaching this important decision. In addition to the recommendation sent to me by the HHS Faculty and Administration, I have consulted with our school board chairs, and am in the process of contacting college admissions departments, other high schools in similar communities, and professional organizations in school administration and counseling. While some of you have written to support the HHS Administration's recommendation, many of you have reached out with thoughtful proposals for some kind of compromise between a credit/no credit system and a traditional grading scale. Your ideas vary widely, but share some common elements. Most of you have expressed concern about grades from Third Quarter being lost in the calculation of a Second Semester average. As I mentioned on Friday, we will ensure that these grades are factored in to any grading modification that we implement. Another popular recommendation is that students be allowed to choose whether their Fourth Quarter work is assessed by traditional letter grades, or by a credit/no credit option. Those favoring such an approach have cited factors such as motivation, advantage/disadvantage in college admissions, and general fairness in their arguments. Those opposing such a choice express reservations that by allowing some students to choose traditional grades we will exacerbate disparities including access to technology, levels of family support, and receptivity to distance learning.
This pandemic has completely disrupted our lives, and of course, our educational program. HHS was a beehive of activity - not that long ago, the school was alive with students learning, creating, socializing, participating in student activities, and competing in sports. Many students relied on daily face-to-face interaction with their teachers, counselors, and support staff. Others found the Library a vital environment for their independent learning. Everyone had access to the tools and resources of education. Now teachers have office hours, curriculum has been adapted to fit into "learning management systems," and vital classroom instruction has been parceled into Zoom meetings. Families, including our teachers' families, are doing their best to manage child care, remote work, remote learning, socially-distanced grocery shopping, telemedicine, and in some cases, precarious economic situations. Very few of us were trained for this kind of change. I am optimistic in believing that we will all learn important lessons from this common experience. We are not alone in the Upper Valley, living under "stay at home orders" and trying to conduct school without the use of our schools. It's happening everywhere, and we are all living this together- including the people who work in college admissions offices. We will do our best to develop a grading plan by Friday afternoon that serves our students' best interests and reflects the impressive resilience and resourcefulness of our teachers and learners.