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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Grading Policy Reform

The High School Steering Committee has been meeting for over a year. One sub-committee of the Steering Committee has been discussing changes to the District's grading policy.

The High School Steering Committee is a staff committee. There is no one on the committee who does not work for the school district.

The School-Family Partnership Plan (on page 15) calls for the Board to: "Develop policies and procedures that require parent and family involvement in district decision-making and advisory committees." But the Board hasn't taken the first step towards enacting this policy, so there was no student family representation on this committee.

This committee is about to make a number of recommendations to the Board. These include a shift to an eleven point grade point average system and rules and procedures for awarding high school credit for classes taken in middle school, among other things. The Committee is supposed to be doing their community engagement on the proposals now, but that "community engagement" consists exclusively of asking high school principals what they think of the proposals. The recommendations are scheduled to come before the Board in January or February.

2 comments:

Maureen said...

Roosevelt's principal (Brian Vance) handed out a survey on this topic to the (about 20) parents who attended the last RHS PTSA meeting (11/19). He said that the survey was only available on paper--no online or email version was provided by the District. I'm the volunteer coordinator at our K-8 and was at the last Site Council meeting and I had not seen any mention of this topic before the RHS meeting.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maureen is right and the RHS principal seemed a little flummoxed by the whole thing. He wants parents to see it but trying to get paper copies to about 1400 parents plus getting them back in a timely fashion is quite a job. He didn't know why it wasn't available online.

So just to expand on Charlie's explanation, the survey is about:

-11-pt grading system (using A+, A-, etc.). Under discussion they say that students may work harder for a better grade rather than saying "a low B is still a B so why work harder". They also so that it makes it easier to distinguish one student's GPA from another and that most WA state high school uses this form of grading.

- eliminating the 2.0 GPA graduation requirement for:
1) cumulative and/or
2) core
3) for athletic eligibility (the state athletic board simply calls for students to be passing 5 courses)

If we did this for the cumulative or core classes, the feeling is it would be wrong to continue the 2.0 for athletes.

- one of Charlie's favorites - high school credit for middle school courses. I did NOT like the way this one was written at all. I don't want to type in the whole thing but it seemed vague and unclear. It used the example of students having to take and pass the state history requirement but not getting credit for it. But Board policy does not allow credit for middle school classes even though the state does. It does state that middle and high school math departments have expressed support for this proposal.

Here they are talking about math and biology but don't mention foreign language. They also say that they recommend credit only if the course is equivalent to the high school course AND the teacher is also certified to teach the course at high school.

Sorry, School Board but if you allow kids to take two years of a foreign language or math in middle school which then allows them to enter the next level in high school, then it should be good enough for a high school credit.

-Last is weighted grading for AP/IB and Honors classes.

Here you would get what they call "quality points" for an AP or IB course (1 point), half a point for an Honors class and no extra points for a college prep/tech prep course (what might be commonly called basic ed classes).

The idea here is to encourage kids to take harder courses knowing that their GPA may not suffer (because of the quality points assigned) even if they don't do well.

I'm voting yes to the 11-point grading scale, yes to the elimination of the cumulative (but not core) 2.0, no to eliminating the 2.0 for athletes, yes for credit for middle school courses for high school and yes for weighted grading system.