Posted on October 4, 2021

Minnesota Middle School Removes F From Its Grading System – Saying It Reinforces Systemic Racism

Stephen M. Lepore, Daily Mail, October 1, 2021

Students at a Minnesota school will no longer be seeing an ‘F’ on test papers – no matter how badly they do – and they could be allowed to retake tests.

Sunrise Park Middle School in White Bear Lake released a YouTube video this week detailing its new grading system which it says, in part, helps fight systemic racism.

The scale goes from an A (any score above 92.5 percent) to an I (50 percent to 59.49 percent) but below that, a letter grade will not be used, including an F.

Associate Principal Norman Bell expanded, saying that students are encouraged to retake/revise tests, quizzes, papers, projects and have a 10-day window to do so after the date the grade is posted.

Grades also will not be increased or decreased over behaviors, attitude, tardiness, and whether the assignment was turned in late or on time.

‘There’s other ways that we can communicate those things to parents,’ said Principal Christina Pierre, who emphasized that not every kid gets things right the first time.

Pierre adds that there will be procedures for students to attempt to actually learn and study for the retakes so that they can show progress.

Sunrise Park Middle School serves students in grades sixth through eighth in a suburb of the Twin Cities.

The district’s superintendent, Wayne Kazmierczak, was awarded Minnesota Association of School Administrators 2021 Superintendent of the Year. It is not clear whether the grading scale will be used in all districts.

He expanded on how grades can perpetuate systemic racism when discussing his award, revealing that the district performed an ‘equity audit’ that showed disparities in grades among students of color.

‘Grading can be one of the largest areas in which systemic racism and inequities are perpetuated. Dr. Kazmierczak and [the school district] believe grades should be a measure of what a student knows and has mastered in a given course. Grading should not be a behavior punishment and should not be a measure of how well a student can survive stress at home,’ the website reads.

In the past, the school has made headlines for allowing students to choose how much privilege different social groups have.

According to the website Niche, which connects people to their future schools, neighborhoods and workplaces, White Bear Lake schools rank 99th in the state. Sunrise Park ranks 128th among nearly 400 Minnesota middle schools.