LAUSD gives students second chance with new “no-fail” policy


Itzel Luna

Local District Northwest will be offering Zoom office hours during winter break to help students who are finishing up assignments. Scroll down to the bottom of the story for a link containing the Zoom meeting code.

Daniela Rangel and Alliana Samonte

Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) earlier this week, announced a “no-fail” policy in hopes of decreasing mental strain on students who are failing classes this semester during distance learning.

The Los Angeles Times shared LAUSD’s plan to extend the final fall semester grading period until Jan. 29. The push allows for a more lenient grading period in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and the struggle to learn virtually. Students receiving failing grades have the chance to receive an incomplete mark now, allowing them to make up work and raise their grades during the winter break. The missing assignments will be due on Jan. 29. 

“I think the positive is that it gives students one last chance to pass,” Daniel Pearl Magnet High School English teacher Cynthia Barry Wald said. “Any time the students have the opportunity to pass then that’s good for them, if they take advantage of that.”

As detailed in an LAUSD directive sent to principals and obtained by the Los Angeles Times, “Grades have dramatically deteriorated, especially for Latino and Black students, English learners, students with disabilities, foster youth and those experiencing homelessness.” 

LAUSD’s “no-fail” policy is similar to the LAUSD policy students were informed of at the beginning of the national quarantine in March, where grades could not lower from what they had during in-person instruction. The district hopes that this new “no-fail” policy will serve as a learning incentive to students who are failing.

“I’m not sure (if this was the right policy to implement),” Barry said. “It’s a difficult situation all the way around. It would have been better and it would have run a lot more smoothly if this had been announced even a week before this week.”

With four days left to the semester, LA Unified’s announcement on Dec. 15 was targeted to support a “humane grading policy.” However, teachers find it challenging to contact individual students and keep track of their progress. Especially with trying to connect with students on Zoom, the news of the policy shook up teachers as well as their holiday break.  

“I don’t think that it was fair to teachers or students because, as teachers, we need to be clear to our students and this policy has created a lot of questions in the last week,” Barry said. “Had the policy been implemented and all the questions been answered a week or two ago that would have been a lot more fair to everybody.”

Local District North West has tutoring hours during the winter break to help students with their makeup work.