The Mentee Minute

March 17th, 2014 ~ Volume 11 - Policy

Happy St. Patrick's Day - JIT Topic Policies

Don't rely on luck. Be sure to familiarize yourself with school policies. All school policies and procedures must be followed. Teachers should refer to the Teacher handbook for specific written policy. Department coordinators may also communicate policy or procedure during the semester. Special education accommodations/modifications are made and clearly communicated to students and parents. Teachers must follow school policies to ensure a consistent, quality experience for all our students. Policy also reflects legal obligations to our students and stakeholders

Top Ten Policies Every GaVS Teacher Should Know

Top Ten Policies

Top Ten in Detail

Below are the top ten policies covered in the video above, along with thoughts from our mentors. Please refer to the individual policy documents for full-length policy information.

At the end of the semester, it is sometimes an option to drop the lowest grades for all students in a course. It is not required but is an option. Teachers should follow the guidelines below:

  • No grades should be dropped until the course closes.

  • Teachers are allowed to drop 1 grade for every 5 grades in a grade category.

  • Teachers may drop up to 3 grades per segment. A segment is a half Carnegie unit course. That means a half-unit course (A or B) can have up to 3 grades dropped. A full unit (AB) course can have up to 6 grades dropped.

0s, 0s, 0s ~ Yolanda Nigrelli

It most important to make sure that teachers enter zeros in gradebook no later than Tuesday following the Friday deadlines. This way our students will see how not turning work in on time affects their grades. Also reminding them of the Late Penalty Policy. Another would be to make sure you give constructive feedback.

Teachers should never offer an early exam without permission from your Department Coordinator. If a student has demonstrated that he/she has mastered the material or the teacher feels the student is ready for the exam earlier than the scheduled exam days, the teacher may allow him/her to take the final exam. In these cases, the student will have only one attempt at the final exam and will not be allowed to “retake” it at the scheduled date, the teacher should provide clear guidance in writing to the student, parent, and facilitator regarding availability of the exam and also enter this information in the communication log for this student. Let the Department Coordinator know of the plan for early exam release.

  • At least every other week, teachers should send a course update email to all students, parents, and assigned Quality Assurance Specialist. Teachers should bcc on that email.
  • The first week a student grade drops below 70, teachers should contact parents by phone. Follow up calls should be made at least once a month while students continue to have a grade below 70.

Contacting Failing Students ~ Carrie Madden

You only have to contact failing students once/month. As an eager teacher, I burnt myself out the first semester contacting every failing student each benchmark. Calling the first time/month and then using Dial My Calls can help relieve some burden. I also recommend keeping a personal log of when you have contacted and jot down the grade. That way you don't contact if you already have.

Georgia Virtual School has a social media policy governing how faculty and staff use outside websites that in any way involve or reference the our school or other Georgia Virtual Learning initiatives. Please review the policy annually to be sure you are in compliance.

Georgia Virtual Learning Employee Social Media Policy

Keep All Emails ~ Joyce Bearden

Teachers should not delete emails. We are required to keep them. Create an archive folder and store your messages.
  • The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal law that protects the privacy of student educational records. Private student information including social security number, GTID, and course grades should only be shared with the parent, student, or authorized school personnel. Due to FERPA policies, teachers and administrators are prohibited from communicating student information with anyone but the student, the parent(s) on record, the school facilitator on record, school monitors on record, or school administration. Teachers should not communicate with tutors or any other person not listed on a student's records.Great care must be taken to ensure this information is not inadvertently shared with those who do not have the proper permission.

No Grades in Email ~ Doug Curtright

I think the policy of not sharing grades via email is something that often trips up new teachers. This is opposite of what many school systems in GA tell their teachers and I think sometimes new teachers may not understand that it is a paradigm shift they must make once they become GAVS teachers.
  • Teachers should not advise parents, students, or facilitators about which courses to take or not take. Teachers should not suggest that a student change courses or semesters. If a student, parent, or facilitator requests this sort of move from an instructor, the instructor should direct the person to the Department Coordinator.
  • At no point should an instructor recommend a withdrawal or course change for a student. If you are asked to make a recommendation, please direct the parent/student to their school facilitator.
  • Students should stay on the GAVS schedule that they choose upon entering their course. Even if the local school breaks do not coincide with the GAVS break, students must meet the assignment due dates. Students should communicate their school breaks with their teacher as soon as possible and if necessary discuss with their instructor how to get ahead.

Schedules Different than GAVS ~ Shane Miller

I would say that it is important to remind students very early that our schedule does not necessarily correspond to the students traditional school schedule. Many students just assume that if their school is on a break then we are on a break, which is not always the case. Communicating this early on will save the teacher and student some problems later on!
  • Students can switch to a shorter schedule once during a semester. Teachers should document this switch in the communication log with the effective date. In most cases, it is not recommended that students switch from an 18 week to a 12 week schedule.
  • If the teacher feels additional measures are needed, he or she may contact the Department Coordinator to discuss the situation.

Fall and Spring Semesters:

  • Work turned in after the Friday midnight deadline will be accepted within 1 week with a late penalty assessed. Late penalty is deducted at a rate of 10% of the assignment value per school day. Work turned in on Saturday and Sunday is considered 1 day late.

  • Fall and Spring late work policy example: David turns in an assignment at 3:15 pm on Sunday. He scores a 7 out of 15 on the assignment. David will lose 1.5 points on this assignment (15 * .10) and the score recorded in the grade book is 5.5/15. A note should be made in the grade book detailing the late work deduction.

Summer Semester:

  • All work for a summer school course is due the day assigned. For the first weekday an assignment is late, 25% will be deducted; for the second day late, 50% will be deducted. After 2 school days, a grade of 0 will be given. Work turned in on Saturday and Sunday is considered 1 day late.

Extension Requests ~ Marilynn Skinner

Be sure to refer any deadline extension requests to your DC. This includes requests due to family emergency, illness, technical issues, and face to face school trips, outages, etc.

  • Teachers should read and respond to email within one school day.

  • Completed assignments should be graded within three school days of being turned in to the learning management system during fall and spring semester or one school day during summer, unless the teacher notifies the students of a different timeline. Major projects and essays may require more time.

  • News announcements should be posted at least once a week.

  • All GAVS related correspondence should be contained within the learning

management system and Georgia Virtual Learning Google accounts.

  • Zeros should be entered for any missing work no later than Tuesday at midnight the week after the bi-weekly assignment period ends.

  • All student work should be submitted inside the learning management system. If students are sent to an outside site to do an assignment, there must be some way to ultimately submit it internally, such as by putting a link in a dropbox. Teachers should not accept and grade work submitted via email.

Check Course Content ~ Laura Harris

Check to make sure your tests match the content. For example, some courses have switched textbooks, so it is a good idea actually take the exams you are giving your students.

Original Work & Course Enhancements ~ Kelly Gardner

Students should not resubmit work from a previous semester or from another class. This is part of the academic honesty policy.

Also, remember that even though we can't change the content, we can enhance the course by adding news items, enriching discussions, etc. Make it your own!

One Additional Policy ~ Very Important

Student Distress

Even in the online environment, certified teachers are mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect. If a student discusses being neglected or abused, email the information and any documentation to the following GaVS administration and GaVS school counselor.

Amanda Williamson: 404.683.8850 and

Nikki (Nicole) Walker: 404.909.8855 and

Margaret Thomas: 404.985.8319 and

If a student in any way indicates that he or she is contemplating harm to him/herself or others, expresses suicidal thoughts, depression, or other emotional problems immediately call and email the following GaVS administration and GaVS school counselor. When possible, forward any documentation to support your concerns.

Amanda Williamson: 404.683.8850 and

Nikki (Nicole) Walker: 404.909.8855 and

Margaret Thomas: 404.985.8319 and

Special Education Policies

Teachers will receive an email from our special education staff with a list of accommodations to make. The teacher should then communicate to students and parents letting them know how accommodations will be handled for that specific course.

Check out these additional Special Education resources:

Set Accommodations ~ Liz Ford

Making sure to complete quiz restrictions for students with IEP/504 plans as soon as you receive the information from our Special Education Department. It is vital to have that in place before the students begin the course.

About the Authors

Joyce Bearden ~ GaVS 2013/2014 Teacher of the Year; GaVS 2013/2014 Mentor of the Year; GaVS Latin Instructor since 2009

Kelly Gardner ~ GaVS 2012/2013 & 2013/2014 Teacher of the Year Finalist; GaVS English Department Mentor; GaVS English Instructor since 2007