Message from Supt Pekel

Dear RPS Community,

At the start of the 2023-2024 school year, I asked the staff in our Office of Academics to convene a grading working group that will continually examine and recommend improvements in our school district’s grading procedures. Members of this group include secondary teachers, administrators, and district leaders. Toward that end, the committee has recommended that during the 2024-2025 school year, RPS discontinue allowing high school and high school students who do not complete most of the work expected in their classes or who have not mastered most of the knowledge and skills that are taught in those classes to receive a grade of No Credit (NC).

Like many school districts, Rochester Public Schools implemented the practice of allowing students at the secondary level to earn no credit rather than an F during COVID as a strategy to support those students during an extremely challenging time. As we have moved beyond the COVID pandemic, however, it has become increasingly clear that the drawbacks of allowing students to earn an NC rather than an F have increased. Some of the drawbacks of awarding the NC instead of an F include the following:

  1. The NC doesn’t clearly inform students or parents/caregivers about how well the student understands the material and performed in the class.

  2. The NC does not count toward the student’s overall grade point average at the high school level, so it can send the wrong message about the student’s overall performance in school. GPAs are not calculated for middle school students, so this concern does not apply at that level.

  3. Because NCs do not negatively impact a high school student’s grade point average, it may enable students to qualify to take a college-level course through the Postsecondary Enrollment Educational Options (PSEO) program or other college-level classes that they aren’t truly ready for.

As a result of these factors, the RPS grading committee has recommended that starting with the 2024-2025 school year, Rochester Public Schools should return to awarding an F to students who do not pass a high school or middle school course rather than an NC. As a result of this change, when a student fails a class, their grade will be recorded as an F and it will impact the student’s overall grade point average at the high school level.

The grading committee’s recommendation came as a result of feedback from teachers and leaders. 65% of secondary teachers who responded to a survey agreed that RPS should return to awarding Fs for courses that students fail. The same question was posed to middle and high school administrators, and 69.6% of them supported this change.

As a result of this feedback, I am directing that RPS return to awarding Fs rather than NCs for the upcoming school year. As the school year gets underway, we will take steps to ensure that all students understand this change and the implications that it has for their coursework next year. We will also work hard to be sure that students understand how the grades they earn in middle school and high school influence the types of postsecondary institutions they can attend after high school and the types of jobs they can secure. In addition, we will continue our work to provide all students with access to multiple tiers of academic support so that they can succeed in all classes and subject areas.

Thank you in advance for your assistance in making this important shift in our grading procedures as we continue to help our students prepare for life in the complex and competitive economy and society in which they will live their lives.

Kent Pekel, Ed.D