Seminole County superintendent requests eliminating school letter grades due to COVID-19

Superintendent Dr. Walt Griffin set to retire in 2021

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County Superintendent Dr. Walt Griffin sent a letter this week to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran requesting to forgo school grades in 2021 due to the difficulties presented by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This letter is a respectful request to consider not assigning 2021 school grades and teacher valued-added scores due to the unprecedented educational impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Griffin wrote, adding this would help lift one layer of anxiety from "an already overwhelmed educational system.

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Griffin said the school district recommends the 2021 Florida Standards Assessment, or FSA, be used to inform instruction for each student but not to label schools with A-F grades.

Using school grades for the 2020-21 school year may result in misrepresentation of student and school achievement this year, Griffin wrote.

The superintendent listed a variety of reasons why, including instability in home learning environments, technology challenges and quarantine situations.

He also notes, 5th and 8th grade science tests are comprehensive and those students likely missed a good portion of lessons during the fourth quarter of 2019-20 and the first semester of 2020-21 because of the pandemic.

Griffin announced in September he plans to retire at the end of the 2020-2021 school year. He had planned to retire in the spring but then coronavirus hit and he decided to delay to help the district endeavor through the pandemic.

The superintendent’s proposal comes as the school district sent an email to families Wednesday notifying them of surveys about the next semester. In the survey, families will be asked whether they would continue with in-person learning or online given the option.

The survey will be sent to families on Nov. 2 and be open until Nov. 9, according to the email.

Because of the unique preparations that must be made for semester two classes, parent responses are required.

School districts are still waiting on direction from the Florida Department of Education regarding online instruction for next semester.

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