Montgomery County Board of Education to weigh semester grade option

The Montgomery County Board of Education is expected to vote May 12 on whether MCPS students should have the option to request a semester grade as the county continues to weight how to measure education under this unprecedented Coronavirus shutdown.

MCPS already announced on April 19 students would not receive a grade for the 4th quarter. Instead, MCPS students, who make up Maryland’s largest school system, will get a “pass” or “incomplete” for the final period as MCPS continues distance learning. 


Traditionally, MCPS also gave a semester grade and BOE members say it’s that second-semester grade, including the 3rd and 4th quarters, that gets sent along with a college application. There is now a push for MCPS students to have that second-semester grade option. 

Long-time Board Member Pat O’Neill told FOX 5 she believes those students who worked very hard for their grades this school year should get a semester grade option if they want. O’Neill said she’s been hearing from concerned parents about the college application impact and argues each transcript is unique to the individual student. O’Neill also told FOX 5 this impacts those middle school students taking high school level classes as well.

“If we can relieve one bit of stress for families of college bound families or students who will be applying to college. We should That if students worked hard, received a high grade in that marking period, have had a history of high grades in the first semester, that they should choose, have the ability to choose grade or pass,” said O’Neill. 

John F. Kennedy High School senior and Montgomery County Student Board of Education Member, Nate Tinbite, tells FOX 5 he’s not “against” O’Neill, but believes a semester grade option may not be fair for all MCPS students during this difficult time of remote learning. 

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“The quality of their internet, whether their siblings are running around the house, how many hours they’re able to sit down and look at their laptop without distraction,” said Tinbite. “At this point instruction definitely varies on circumstances and to make sure that the system is fair, in genuinely do believe in a universal system where every student is put on that pass-incomplete system.” 

Tinbite also mentioned a petition that’s gathered more than 1,600 signatures from those not even wanting grades for the third quarter since the end of the third marking period is when the coronavirus school shutdowns began. 

MCPS has been asking students and parents to weigh-in on the matter. 

The school system also recognized some students may have had some difficulty completing the third quarter. Third marking period report cards went out Monday. 

The day before, MCPS and Superintendent Jack R. Smith sent notice, advising parents what to do should a middle or high schooler receive an “incomplete” on their third-quarter report card. Those students will get another chance.

“… please contact your child’s teacher. In cases of an ‘Incomplete,’ schools will also be contacting families to develop a plan for the student to complete remaining assignments to earn a passing grade,” part of the MCPS community message issued on Sunday read. 

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In Prince George’s County, a PGCPS Spokesperson told FOX 5 their School Board and Schools CEO decided earlier to not grade the fourth quarter either. PGCPS students are also receiving a “pass” or “incomplete” for their fourth marking period. However, PGCPS students will also get a final grade that includes all four quarters. 

Fairfax County Public Schools, which is Virginia’s largest school system, is operating similarly to PGCPS. However, the school system has also confirmed any assignments completed during the fourth quarter can help the students’ final grade.  

Here’s the Sunday notice on grading sent to MCPS