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Proposed grading system nears approval

March 02, 2001

Proposed grading system nears approval



By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Board of Education is expected to approve changing the county middle and high school grading system from percentages to letters at its meeting Tuesday night, according to a board document.

The changes also include moving from four to three marking periods a semester.

Boyd Michael, director of secondary education, said the School Board and board administrators will discuss the changes at a 10 a.m. work session Tuesday. He said the board could ask for more time to consider the changes and delay voting on the issue in the evening.

"It's not on the fast track that this is what we're going to do," Michael said. "It's still being looked at."

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The Board of Education held two public meetings on the proposed changes last Wednesday and Thursday. The majority of parents, teachers and students in attendance spoke out against the method in which the letter grades would be determined.

The board has created a matrix, or a grading formula, that determines final grades based on the three-marking period system. For example, if a student were to receive an A the first marking period, a C in the second and C in the third, the final grade would equal a C on the matrix.

If a student received a C in the first marking period, a B in the second and an F in the third, the final grade would equal a C.

What concerns parents is that if those first and second marking period grades were received in the reverse order - a student earned a B in the first period and a C in the second, instead of the other way around - and the third marking period grade was an F, the student would fail the course.

"The matrix is an unfair way to determine final grades," Carol Fitzwater, a teacher at Washington County Technical High School, said Wednesday. "The matrix is flawed.

"Right now the final grade is an average," Fitzwater said. "The matrix would not necessarily reflect an average of the marking period."

The school system said the changes would:

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Prepare students for the state high school assessments by aligning course assessment methods with the standards of the high school assessments.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Provide consistency between the middle and high school grading systems.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Allow students to recover from one poor marking period.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* "> Align course grades with a standard method of determining grade point averages for class rank, honor roll and college reporting.

Additional changes include sending out progress reports for high school year-long courses at 6, 18 and 30 weeks and report cards at 12, 24 and 36 weeks.

For high school semester courses, report cards will be issued at 6, 12 and 18 weeks.

In the middle schools, progress reports will be sent home at 6, 18 and 30 weeks and report cards at 12, 24, and 36 weeks.

The School Board meetings will held at the central office on Commonwealth Avenue.

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