Weekly Recap, April 30, 2020

Dear Families of St. Mary Magdalen,

During our closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been working hard to authentically assess student learning based on the education standards. In response to the recent guidance provided by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, as well as the Office for Catholic Schools, we will be implementing grading changes for the duration of the school year.

This year letter grades will not be placed on report cards. For most classes, we will be using the terms “Mastery” or “Working to Mastery”. These two benchmarks indicate where a student is at in their learning. This will be accompanied by a comprehensive narrative that provides more specific details about your student’s strengths and areas of opportunity.

The two classes for which grades will be given are Washington State History and Algebra. This decision is based on the recommendation from the Office for Catholic Schools. These are considered ‘gatekeeper’ classes and a grade designation prevents future issues for students as they move forward in their educational journey. The grading for these two classes will be A, B, and “Working to Mastery”.

The purpose of this alternate grading system is to help students understand where they are in their learning. We recognize this is a novel situation and there are stressors and unusual challenges that affect a student’s learning. We are working in close partnership with the Office for Catholic Schools and using the guidance documents from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to meet the recommended best practices available at this time.

A grade of incomplete is also possible when it is not possible to assess a student’s current understanding. An incomplete grade will only be given upon recommendation from our administrators, Diversified Learning Specialist, and our counselor. We look forward to finishing up the year strong and want to help our students focus on feedback and continue to work to mastery. We hope these changes reduce the stress placed upon students and families as a result of COVID 19.

I also wanted to give you an update regarding the transition plan for leadership at the end of this month. As you are aware my wife will be giving birth in late May and I will be taking several weeks to help assist her recovery. Because the timing of the birth falls very close to the end of the school year we want to make sure that there is a strong continuity of leadership and a clear person to assist you in answering your questions.

As of May 20th we will begin transitioning some duties over to Dr. Mahar in preparation for my absence. We ask that families direct their questions pertaining to school operations or to plans for the upcoming school year to Dr. Mahar. She and I have been working closely in order to make this a smooth transition and to ensure that she is fully informed about both our current practices and our future plans. She is a dedicated individual and I am certain that she will be able to carry forward our tradition of excellence during this period of time.

Once I return from leave we will continue to have Dr. Mahar function as the point person for questions. I will still be available, however my focus will be to make this a smooth and seamless transition of leadership and to help to ensure the effective closing out of the school year.

In the event that my daughter is born prior to May 20th, Dr. Mahar will take over as the point person at that time. I am looking forward to the upcoming birth of my daughter and I am thankful for the chance I have had to work with all of our families at St. Mary Magdalen. I am excited to have a strong finish for this school year with all of you and I am excited about the new opportunities that Dr. Mahar will bring to our community.