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School District Puts New Grading Guidelines in Place For Fall

90/10 Plan aims to provide consistency for academic standards.

Beginning in August, the will implement a new system-wide grading system it piloted last year with smaller groups of students. The goal of the new guidelines is to provide consistency in grading across the school district.

In the 90/10 plan, students’ grades on their report cards will be determined at 90 percent by graded assessments of material and at 10 percent by work habits in areas such as homework and study skills. According to the pupil evaluation policy in the student handbook, the 90/10 plan will “cause grades to have a more common meaning.”

“Some teachers focused heavily on homework and let that be the grade, even though [students] had not mastered the content or understood the material,” said Debra McNair, director of teaching and learning for the school district.

“The 90/10 [plan] is our opportunity to communicate with students and parents that their grade is based on the achievement of their academic goals,” she said.

d introduced the new grading process to the school district in February, 2010. The 90/10 plan was then tested throughout the 2010-11 school year with sample teams of students at , and .

“We do not want 50 percent of a child’s grade to be based on collecting notebook papers and keeping a folder all year long. That’s not going to demonstrate the child’s mastery of those standards,” Holland said at the June 13 meeting of the school board.

“We have to create some continuity in the parameters of grading students, based on 90 percent of mastery of content and 10 percent non-mastery, study skills and habits,” he said.

Teachers throughout the school district will be instructed on the new guidelines during staff-training days in August.

More information on the 90/10 plan is available on the school-district website.

Andrea Martin June 27, 2011 at 09:54 PM
This new grading system had me seeing red last year when my daughter brought home the explainaton of how the system was going to work (she was part of the pilot). I was very disappointed to see that not only can you retake tests for a better grade, as Mike stated, but if you do not take a test or do a project, the lowest grade you can get on it is 50%. So one student can work really hard on a project and get 80% but another student can do absolutely nothing and still get 50%...I do not understand! Like Mike said, it is OK to fail at times. If they do nothing, their grade should reflect that. How is this new grading system helping our kids?
Mike Penta June 28, 2011 at 09:12 AM
Robin, what I have learned is that grade inflation has become so rampant in education that one's grades are no longer realible predictors of future performance. When I interview young people, I don't even care what they put down as a GPA anymore. Instead I have to ask about real-world experiences and test their problem solving and critical thinking skills myself.
Mike Penta June 28, 2011 at 11:13 AM
What ever happened to a student's grade being based on learning so that it accurately represents what a student knows and is able to do? All grade inflation does is help GET KIDS INTO college, when instead we should be PREPARING them for college. Maybe efforts to inflate grades in K-12 is the reason why so many students enter college only to find out they have to take remedial math and english classes first.
Carrie July 23, 2011 at 06:58 PM
I understand your point, and agree- although, if "mastery of content" is the goal, this may not be a terrible plan. Due to state testing, teachers are forced to present new content at an incredible speed. Although individualized eductaion is supposed to be taking place in each classroom, it rarely can be, given student teacher ratios. As a parent, if my child wasn't able to grasp a concept before the teacher had to move on to a new one, I would appreciate being able to help my child learn the concept at home and then having them prove they grasped it by retesting. As an educator, I would appreciate the help of the parent and a student who now understands the concept and is able to move on. I do see how this system, when implemented directly at the high school level, may cause laziness and procrastination. Therefore, implementation at the elementary level first may be key. It could then follow the students through the grade levels.
Mike Penta July 24, 2011 at 03:13 AM
I like where you're coming from, and you hit on the real problem that school administrators and school board members around the country need to take to our leaders: The harmful effects of mandatory state testing. We have become so focused on performing well on these tests that we completely forgot about applying our critical thinking skills. Students are learning how to regurgitate names, places, and dates, and then clear them out of their minds in order to be ready for their next test. We have been moving towards becoming a nation of great test takers, and now we are giving students the option to take them twice. Education is an excellent tool, when used properly, but we need policies that shift the focus back to learning instead of boosting test grades.

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