School Board Revamps Grading Policies

Business+Technology+teacher+Sharyn+Setzer+grades+assignments+at+her+desk+at+the+high+school.+The+Board+of+Education+voted+Sept.+24+to+change+the+school+district%E2%80%99s+grading+policy.
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School Board Revamps Grading Policies

Business Technology teacher Sharyn Setzer grades assignments at her desk at the high school. The Board of Education voted Sept. 24 to change the school district’s grading policy.

Business Technology teacher Sharyn Setzer grades assignments at her desk at the high school. The Board of Education voted Sept. 24 to change the school district’s grading policy.

Business Technology teacher Sharyn Setzer grades assignments at her desk at the high school. The Board of Education voted Sept. 24 to change the school district’s grading policy.

Business Technology teacher Sharyn Setzer grades assignments at her desk at the high school. The Board of Education voted Sept. 24 to change the school district’s grading policy.

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The Warren Hills Board of Education voted Sept. 24 to change the grading policy to create an assessment remindful of, but not the same as, final exams and would set students’ lowest possible fourth-quarter grades to zero from the current 50.

The changes to the school district’s grading regulations would allow a student to receive a onetime minimum grade of 55 out of 100 in a course for each of the first three marking periods, or quarters, as long as the student displays effort in improving his or her grade.

“The goal of the revised policy is to challenge students and prepare them for their future,” according to a letter, on school district stationery, that was scheduled to be sent to parents and guardians Sept. 27.

The board approved the new policy by a vote of 8-0. The ninth board member, Eric Walls, was absent from the meeting.

The policy is designed so that a student must take special steps, with help from teachers, parents, and guidance counselors, to receive a grade of 55 in a class if the actual grade were to fall below that number. Students who fail to display effort in any given class will not qualify to receive the minimum grade.

Students will not have the benefit of a safety-net grade of 55 in the fourth quarter and will be left with whatever total grade they receive, to as low as zero.

The former grading system allowed for a student failing a class to receive an automatic minimum grade of 50 for all four marking periods, even if the actual grade is below 50.

“The new grading system is much better than the older one,” said Social Studies teacher Sal Barillari. “It’s much better because it adds to student accountability.” 

“Only receiving one 55 will better prepare students for courses like math, having them better prepared for the coming year,” said Mathematics teacher Matthew Del Elba.

The new Grading System District Regulation 2624 policy also includes a separate cumulative activity accounting for 10 percent of every student’s overall grade for every course.

This activity, called a Common Cumulative Assessment (CCA), could take the form of projects, research papers, and research presentations. It will be “monitored over a period of time and is not a one-day assessment” like traditional final exams, according to the board’s new policy. 

“Growth is important,” said Principal Christopher Kavcak. “If we have opportunities to grow and build towards this cumulative assessment, there is going to be higher achievement” than if students were to merely take one final test at the end of the year, he said.

In a full-year course with CCA, the grade earned in each of four marking periods will count for 22.5 percent of the total grade, while the new CCA will make up the remaining 10 percent. For half-year courses, the breakdown would be 45 percent for each of the two marking periods, and the CCA would remain at 10 percent of the overall grade.

The CCA’s design will ensure students have the ability to demonstrate content knowledge and skills taught in each course, and that they are receiving consistent and useful feedback from their teacher throughout the process,” according to the Sept. 27 letter.

Students who take Advanced Placement courses will not have to complete the CCA, as long as they register for the AP course’s national test, which is usually held in May. If a student does not take the AP test, he or she would be required to complete the CCA, Kavcak said.

Another change in the grading policy includes teachers entering student grades into the electronic Genesis grading system “no later than one week after assignment/assessment is due/completed,” according to the new policy.

However, this apparent requirement is more of a guideline for teachers, Kavcak said. The purpose is to get feedback to students as soon as possible so a student’s grade will not change drastically right before the end of the marking period or the end of the school year. This grading deadline is a new addition to the school district’s former grading system.

 

Staff reporters contributing to this story were Trish Ankoma-Gyedu, Sam Bradley, Loren Burrows, Christopher Casella, Alan Freeman, Kaitlin Glagola, Sam Lewis, Elizabeth Nyamweya, Wesley Reyes, Kat Rodriguez, Cullen Tiger, Melanie Weatherspoon and Jaedon Wolfrum.