When HISD parents from grades K-12 receive report cards on Jan. 10, they may be finding a new notation – “NG” – that blocks the grade from being seen because of poor attendance.
NG isn’t a reflection of failure – in fact the grade may be passing – but under expanded state requirements for school attendance, the student didn’t put in enough time in class to receive a grade in it.
“Excessive, unexcused absences,” is the official explanation parents will see – meaning the student was missing 10 percent or more of the time the class met. A grade will actually be assigned and recorded by HISD, but it will, in effect, be masked on the report card.
That’s the bad news. The good news, says Mark White, HISD’s director of School Support Services, is that the situation can be remedied – but only if the student has a passing grade for the period. “It’s up to parents to find out from the school right away what corrective steps they and their student might be able to take as they enter the second half of the school year to recover credit or move toward promotion,” White says.
Depending on the student’s circumstances, that could include repeating the course, credit recovery, or credit by exam for grades of at least 70 percent.
Another option is one that has been available for several years to students who missed class between 11 and 25 percent of the time. They can work with the principal to create a plan to remediate the situation, which allows credit to be awarded upon completion.
A final option, for students with extenuating circumstances, is to file an appeal with the campus attendance committee.
The “NG” is part of new regulations – known as HB 5 — passed by the Texas Legislature in its last session to create uniform, rigorous standards for promotion and graduation. It’s one one of several changes students and parents are seeing due to HB 5.
The number of required STAAR end-of-course exams required to graduate from high school has been reduced from 15 to five. Starting with the 2014-2015 school year, entering ninth-graders will have to select from two graduation paths of varying rigor and will have to choose “endorsements” – areas of academic and career focus – to pursue as part of their graduation plan.
For more on STAAR and HB 5, go to www.houstonisd.org/STAAR.