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Why different districts have different standards during school closures

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Posted at 2:41 PM, Apr 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-29 20:51:03-04

Students and parents across Arizona are juggling the demands of at-home learning and while so many are in that same situation, the teaching methods, coursework and grading criteria can look very different.

It's a common question many parents have expressed to ABC15 since schools closed: "why is there no statewide standard in place?"

Here is how State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman explained it.

"We are a local control state and the local governing board does make those policies," Hoffman said. "If the state legislature wanted to take action on those types of things they could, but that's not something they included in their school closure legislation."

The Arizona Board of Education did adopt rules to make sure high school seniors would still be able to graduate, if they were on track to before the closures. The Department of Education has also been vocal about not penalizing students who may have limited access to learning materials. Still, evaluating student performance at all during this time, remains a big concern.

Parents in the Scottsdale Unified School District recently circulated a petition asking for more leniency in their grading. That district's Governing Board eventually updated its policy.

"I think it's important to note that there's never been a statewide standard for grading," said Chris Kotterman, director of government relations for the Arizona School Boards Association. "That's always been the case and we're seeing that play out now, it's just not usually as public."

Kotterman says even during a public health crisis, the consequences of a statewide standard would outweigh the benefits.

"You have districts taking a little bit different approach depending on.... what they think their students’ needs are," Kotterman said. "The last thing you want is the state having to decide whether or not your student gets an A."