Coronavirus Update
from the IMSA President
APRIL 21, 2020
Important Updates from
Principal and Chief Academic Officer,
Robert Hernandez, Ed.D.
Grading System Update
Prior to our Spring Break, our faculty initiated the conversation about grading for our students. The question of alternatives to the current grading system is a complex question involving many factors including but not limited to issues related to equity. All stakeholders have raised questions about assessment and grading; it is a question that we have discussed at length. We put together a team composed of faculty (the Curriculum and Assessment Leaders - Mr. Matthew McCutcheon, Ms. Mary Beth McCarthy, Mr. David Lundgren, Dr. Crystal Randall, Dr. Devon Madon, Dr. Rachel Banke and Ms. Agnieszka Michalak), Dr. Torres, President, Dr. Hernandez, Principal, Dr. Akwaji-Anderson, Dean of Faculty, and Ms. Hinterlong, Assistant Principal to explore alternatives and make a decision for IMSA. We received and reviewed emails from students, alumni, parents, and staff on the specific subject of grading during this COVID-19 crisis. We reviewed the ISBE recommended guidelines distributed to all schools in the state. We heard from college admission representatives including such schools as Yale, Brown and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and talked with other schools across the country to gather as much input as possible. We also received input from Ms. Julia Husen, Coordinator of College and Academic Counseling. Prior to making this decision, we wanted to allow faculty and students to get into a cadence of remote teaching and learning. We also considered the intended and unintended consequences to our students, teachers, and future college plans.

After much conversation and debate, we have decided to move to a final grading system of Pass/Incomplete for the Spring Semester of 2020 only. All students’ final grades and transcripts for the Spring Semester of 2020 shall be recorded on a Pass/Incomplete basis. Students shall not have an option to opt in or opt out of this decision; all grades for this semester will be Pass/Incomplete. The bulleted list below outlines additional details related to this decision.

  • During the semester, teachers will continue to record letter grades for assignments and assessments.
  • At the conclusion of the semester, teachers will convert the grade to a Pass/Incomplete grade so that a P or I will be noted on the transcript for the semester. All passing grades will count towards graduation credits.
  • Students earning a C- or higher will receive a grade of P.
  • Students who fail to meet course expectations by earning a D in the course will receive an Incomplete.
  • Students who passed at the quarter could potentially receive an Incomplete for the semester if they did not engage in the work and meet course requirements.
  • If a student receives an Incomplete, they have until August 1 to resolve the Incomplete by completing any missing work or assessments. If there is no resolution the grade remains an Incomplete for the Spring Semester 2020.
  • Teachers will provide ongoing feedback throughout the semester to ensure that students know if they are or are not meeting course expectations.
  • Teachers can use semester comments to provide additional details about the student’s performance for the semester.
  • In the event that a student cannot meet course expectations due to extenuating circumstances at home (illness, special family situation, etc.), they should reach out to their CAC who will engage other staff and determine if an Incomplete should be issued for the course.
Commencement 2020
It has been one month since IMSA announced its initial closure due to the COVID-19 health crises. While teachers, students and parents scrambled to prepare for stay-at-home, work-from-home and the transition to remote learning, there was another group of students with a lot on their minds. The class of 2020. And graduation.

We believe it is unlikely that the pandemic will reach a point where it is safe for large gatherings to congregate before next fall. However, If we are able to get together to celebrate the Class of 2020 when it is safe to do so, we most certainly will. We continue to work with Student Council and Senior Class Club on the potential for a summer celebration.
In the meantime, we are moving forward with plans for a 'virtual' commencement ceremony to include traditional speeches by students, guest speaker, regalia, and written program.
 
While we know a virtual experience will not replicate the traditional in-person commencement, we are very excited for the innovative possibilities, ensuring a memorable occasion for our seniors and their families. The date of the ceremony will remain the same -- May 30, 2020 at 3:30 pm.
 
IMPORTANT DETAILS
  • Part of the 'virtual' ceremony will include a video (or photo) of IMSA graduates in their cap/gown. Senior photos will be used, if no video (or photo) is submitted. Video or (photo) can be done with a smartphone or digital camera. The video does not need to be longer than 30 seconds, and does not need any dialogue. Try to make your video (or photo) the highest quality possible with good lighting. To have your video (or photo) included please submit no later than May 18, 2020.
  • To ensure your photo/video is included in our ceremony, upload to https://drive.google.com/open?id=1skVTc4Tixdots7bATl2TiIy7pfDmRLZR
  • Please include your name.
  • Herff Jones will ship caps, gowns, and medallions to graduates' home addresses the first week in May.
  • If you have not ordered cap/gown and wish to, please contact Christy Stichberry, ckstichberry@herffjones.com or order online http://www.highschool.herffjones.com/
  • To check to see if you have a balance due, please contact Christy Stichberry, ckstichberry@herffjones.com
  • If you wish to request a refund for your cap/gown, please contact Christy Stichberry, ckstichberry@herffjones.com
  • Diploma covers and (4) printed programs per family will be mailed prior to May 18, 2020 to the home address listed in PowerSchool.
  • At this particular time, we do understand the $41.00 cap/gown charge could possibly be a burden for some families. If this is the case, please email Colleen Geihm, cgeihm@imsa.edu

As more details become available, we will share this information with you.
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ILLINOIS MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE ACADEMY
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