Mar. 27, 2020 

Dear Ascension Public Schools Families,
We remain committed to our service to students. It is both our obligation and our privilege to serve students in the Ascension Parish community.
We are extremely grateful for the commitment, expertise, and passion of our outstanding teachers and staff who are delivering services in spite of their own personal challenges. Our promise to you: we won't quit. And, to quote the state’s Acting Superintendent Beth Scioneaux, “Schools may have closed their classroom doors, but our work continues.” We agree! (Read more about the state's response here:
The main purpose of today’s message is to provide clarity regarding our plans for monitoring your child’s progress and using that progress for grades. We know you are anxious to know how this online/distance learning work will be used as an official record of grades for children.  
Because of the support our community provided with dedicated funding for technology, our school system is positioned to provide online/distance learning to students. As such, we executed plans to distribute as many computing devices as possible to students as well as distributed printed packets for those who have barriers to online learning. Our teachers and academic support staff have worked very hard to transition to online delivery leveraging Google Classroom, video conferencing, and other platforms to connect with students and continue providing instruction. We are trying to monitor attendance in these online formats, even though, students will not be penalized for attendance. However, monitoring attendance allows us to identify students who may have access issues and support them, if possible. 
It is important to all understand a common purpose for our effort of staying connected to children for educational experiences: Our main goal is NOT grades, but rather support for ongoing academic progress while our school buildings are closed.
Academic feedback remains an important aspect of the learning process. Feedback is critical for both students and teachers. Using academic feedback, teachers make decisions about future lessons for both remediation as well as ongoing enrichment. As such, we continue to provide academic feedback that identifies how well a student is progressing toward both proficiency and ultimately mastery of standards. Assignments, activities, assessments, projects, and other such prompts are being used by our professional educators to allow students to demonstrate their understanding. Feedback to students is traditionally in the form of percentage measurements. This interaction between students and teachers will continue, as it is essential to the ongoing learning process. However, during this time of distance learning where school buildings are closed, we do NOT want these measures to negatively impact students. 
Teachers will be using grades from students’ previous work (prior to March 13) to calculate an average grade for that student. This average grade will be our baseline when determining whether or not to use the academic progress of online learning. We will continue to provide students and parents accurate information about their progress during online learning, but that performance data will NOT be officially included in the student’s final grade for the year unless the data serves to improve the student’s 4th Quarter grade. This allows ALL students to use this period of time during online instruction to improve their grades without any risk.
There is more information about how we will go about this process in a special Grading FAQ page, Additionally, your child’s teacher and your child’s principal will be working with you and your child to ensure that you clearly understand our approach. 
We thank you for working with us to find unique and innovative ways to help children in our community remain connected with academic experiences. Studies show that students academically regress when there is a significant break from school. In fact, a 2018 study by the Economic Policy Institute found, “missing school has a distinct negative influence on performance, even after the potential mediating influence of other factors is taken into account, and this is true at all rates of absenteeism. The bottom line is that the more days of school a student misses, the poorer his or her performance will be, irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity, disability, or poverty status.” 
It is not our intention to make this time more difficult for students and families by requiring academic work. In contrast, we believe providing structure, opportunities for continued learning, and safe peer interaction is not only beneficial to students, but it is also the right thing to do.
We are grateful to be partnered with parents and families who serve as champions for the children in Ascension Public Schools as they progress through their academic journeys. We are convinced that, with your continued partnership, we can minimize the long-term impact of this unprecedented school closure. Join us in helping students remain engaged in daily educational experiences. Let’s focus together on this new opportunity to learn, and we promise, the grades will not be used as a penalty during the season of online learning.
In closing, we realize there may be a list of questions that remain unanswered. We will continue to work through those questions and work with you to find the best solutions for everyone. We look forward to your continued feedback, your partnership, and your support.
I hope you have a great weekend!  


David Alexander
Ascension Public Schools