School board approves new grading policy

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Reid Greenmun addresses the panel at the parents' grading forum. (Kelly Kultys/Southside Daily)
Reid Greenmun addresses the panel at a parents’ grading forum in February, 2016. (Kelly Kultys/Southside Daily)

Virginia Beach has new grading policy for its public schools.

After a year-long process of gathering research and community views, the Virginia Beach School Board adopted a revised grading policy at its meeting Wednesday, with the goal of ensuring consistency across the system, according to a release from Virginia Beach City Public Schools.

“Overwhelmingly, after all these conversations about grading, the feedback we received from our community was to rely on the professional expertise of our teachers,” Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence said in a release. “This change in policy allows us to do just that.”

Under the new guidelines, the superintendent is responsible for developing and implementing a uniform procedure for evaluating student progress. Every school will submit grading expectations to the Department of School Leadership for approval. The superintendent will establish regulations for the approval process, making them consistent with VBCPS policy, administrative grading guidance and applicable laws, according to the release.

The guidance, technically incorporated as amendments to Policy 6-72, states that grades are not to be used for discipline. In addition, grades are presumptively final and valid unless altered through an appeal.

The new policy comes after a protracted review. During the 2015-2016 academic year, the Fair and Equitable Grading Practices Committee studied VBCPS policy and national research and circulated recommendations for grading best practices. Teachers and the public commented on the recommendations through a survey, roundtable events and an e-Town Hall, the release said.

During the current school year, teachers will decide which practices they want to adopt for their schools for 2017-2018. Those plans will then be reviewed by school committees and teams, consisting of parents, teachers and building administrators.

The full policy is available at vbschools.com/students/gradingpractices.

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Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Her recent book, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, was shortlisted for the 2017 Mark Lynton History Prize. Her first book, The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, won the 2005 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.