Board needs more input on grading scale

Published 9:33 pm Monday, November 8, 2010

To the editor:

On its website, the school district has provided a brief informational piece about the proposed grading scale set for implementation in the 2011-2012 school year. A little too brief actually.

What is labeled as an impact report is really not much more than our district copying some of what another district is doing – some of it down to the exact language. To my knowledge, the committee making the proposal (impact study) consisted of one board member and several principals.

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That is unacceptable.

Changing the grading scale is a big deal. Because it is a big deal, we should include parents and teachers as a critical part of the conversation and not simply responders to a survey. The brief survey provided online really asks only one question: Do you want this or not? We can do better.

Let’s not miss an opportunity to tap into the experience and expertise of our teachers. Let’s not miss the opportunity to tap into parental involvement in a significant way. After all, that is a board priority.

The full impact of making a change in the grading scale also needs to be addressed. There are many questions that need to be answered:

What does this look like for our first graders who are better assessed on a developmental scale? Based on the data, how will the change help students? What do examples with scenarios from this year’s data show? Are there any scenarios where the change in the scale hurts students? What does this look like for student grade point averages? What does this look like for college access? Scholarships? What about benchmark assessments for which students are held accountable? Internally, what has to be done to change the scale? What is the actual proposed policy related to the grading scale? What are all the options the committee reviewed? Was the suggested grading scale the only one? How did the committee arrive at 0.3 ±? Did the committee bring in admissions officers as was once suggested during a board meeting? Did the committee review the research related to GPA, college admissions, and scholarships? What other information was reviewed?

You get the idea.

This is a worthy topic to address, but let’s do it thoroughly, while including all of those who are impacted by the decision.

Deborah Wahlstrom