Grading structure undergoes transformation


Photo by Michael Balderas

Grading changes

Grading changes

It is eight weeks into the school year and students are still unaware of changes made to guidelines regarding: the length of the grading period and the way students are evaluation.

Previously, there were six sets of six week grading periods, whereas now there are four sets of nine weeks. One cumulative test now counts for 20 percent of the nine week average, allotting the other 80 percent for up to 12 homework, classwork, participation, assessments, and project grades instead of the equal 50/50 split.

“The previous guidelines were a good start,” assistant principal Sandro Garcia said. “But like anything else, we are always looking for ways to improve it.”

Garcia said the decision to revise the past guidelines was made by a two year student-assessment committee who analyzed the existing guidelines.

“The current guidelines were changed in order to focus on assessing student learning based on the learning standards,” Garcia said. “The current grading guidelines allow for a more concise representation of a student’s level of understanding and application of more complex ideas through critical thinking. They also require the use of more metacognitive instructional strategies in the classroom.”

Garcia said the alterations were made with the best interest of the students in mind.

“We are shifting our assessment of student learning from quantity to the quality of student work, which in turn will increase student achievement,” Garcia said.

Garcia said the modifications will be beneficial to students in the long run.

“The nine week grading period is a better time-frame for assessments in the project based learning (PBL) program,” Garcia said. “The cummulative assessment allows us to gather data on student learning and helps us better address the learning standards, and with the weight taken from 50 to 20 on major tests, students aren’t overly penalized.”

Teachers have had mixed reactions to the new system. English II teacher Margaret Thomas is optimistic about the new routine.

“It is a new system,” Thomas said. “We are going to have some “kinks”, but I believe that it can work just as well if not better. The end result always needs to be that the student has mastered the fundamentals of what was being taught.”

David Wallner, world history teacher, feels that the procedures will be detrimental to students.

“There is no incentive for students to work hard,” Wallner said. “They aren’t going to do their homework, and they won’t study for their tests. They’re going to get lazier.”

Kimberly Baker, freshman connections teacher, believes that the new rules restrict her freedom as an educator.

“The previous guidelines gave me more flexibility,” Baker said. “There weren’t any restrictions to the grades I could give. I want to be able to decide how many grades I give my students.”

While teachers, parents, and students may see the changes as restraining, Garcia said that they were put in place to allow the campus to grow together.
“It’s not about a snapshot approach to assessing student learning, it is about growth and continuous improvement,” Garcia said. “The shift will allow teachers to create and design more profound learning experiences with kids, while building positive relationships through more engaging opportunities to learn.”