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Poplarville announces student graduation, promotion policy

With physical school buildings closed for the second half of the spring semester, the Poplarville School Board of Trustees held a special meeting Thursday to adjust graduation, grading and retention and promotion policies for the 2019-2020 school year.

Administrators have discussed how to recognize seniors and when and how the District could offer a graduation ceremony, but no decisions have been made about graduation yet.
“We’re going to make sure seniors get as much recognition as we can give them,” said Superintendent Konya Miller.

The original date for graduation was set for May 21, said Miller, and so much has changed in the last four weeks that administrators do not want to commit the District to a decision too early when so much could change again in the next four weeks.

The policy adjustments are in line with waivers passed by the State Board of Education and only apply to the current school year, said Superintendent Konya Miller.

The graduating class of 2020 does not have to take end of course assessments to meet graduation requirements, but seniors still need to meet the minimum number of credits required by the state to graduate, which is 24 Carnegie units.

Students who are not seniors and are in a state tested subject area are exempt from having to take end of course assessments as long as they pass the class.

Third graders are exempt from the literacy based promotion act assessment. Third grade students can still be held accountable for grade level expectations set by the District.

The District had previously waived the requirement for the amount of time students have to spend in a classroom to accommodate the closures, said Miller. At Thursday’s meeting the District also adjusted the grading scale for middle and high school students to make the definition of a D grade broader. Students will still have to meet the standard of the curriculum, said Miller, but the Board approved lowering the passing grade from 65 to 60. The grade scale for a B and a C grade remain the same, but what constitutes a D will be a minimum of a 60.

The District made the decision after running failure reports. Administrators want to make sure the District errs on the side of the students during the school closures, said Miller.
The high school is on a four by four schedule, so in the second semester students begin brand new courses. School closures began the day before the fourth nine weeks were supposed to start. The Board approved ending grades for the semester at the end of the third nine weeks for semester long courses.

Some students are enrolled in half semester courses and because of school closures, they have not had the opportunity to even start going to those classes, said Miller. Students are still being sent homework in those courses, and have shown progress to meet curriculum standards, said Miller. Students in those half semester classes will receive credit if they demonstrate that they did the work for those courses, said Miller. However, students who are having a hard time in those classes can opt to drop the class and take it during a different semester. The policy is intended to give students the opportunity to complete the half semester courses if they feel able to do so, but not punish students who do not have the resources they need to complete the class.

Promotion and retention committees make recommendations for non-Carnegie unit courses and will still do so, said Miller.

The District has issued Chromebooks to students who needed them to complete work at home to earn a credit for a course. However, the District’s policy states that Chromebooks are not issued for home use, so the Board approved adjusting the policy in case the school principals want to distribute one. Parents can call their child’s school and talk to the principal if they want to request a Chromebook, said Miller.

The next Board meeting is scheduled for May 11.