Virginia Beach schools address questions on grading practices on website

As Virginia Beach Public Schools consider revising their grading policies, the district has added content to its website to explain the potential changes.

The new “Fair and Equitable Grading Practices” page contains a link to a presentation that Thomas Guskey, a nationally-recognized grading practices expert, gave to parents, administrators, teachers and students last week. It also links to a Frequently Asked Questions page and links to more reading material on the subject.

The website says the purpose of the FAQs page is to “help parents and families better understand VBCPS grading guidelines and how they can provide input to the Fair and Equitable Grading Committee.” The site says the committee is reading research and reviewing comments made at last week’s community forum while it works on recommendations to give to the School Board in the spring.

Some questions that weren’t answered at the forum are listed on the FAQs page. Here are some of them, with the answers provided on the website:

  • Why are changes to the secondary grading practices necessary? Grades should not be a competition or reward/punishment system. They must be a way to communicate effectively where students truly are in the learning process. Teachers engage in daily, continuous assessment of student understanding, and then use this information as the basis for planning future instruction and support for students. Students who have not been successful on a graded assessment must have the opportunity for additional instruction and reassessment. The Fair and Equitable Grading Practices Committee will recommend the best way to capture that work and growth through possible revisions to the VBCPS grading practices.

  • What type of grading practices are being examined? The committee is looking at a number of grading practices, including but not limited to grading of homework, acceptance of late work, the use of zeros for work not turned in as well as proper and efficient reassessments. Specifically, the committee is looking at the non-negotiables in grading and ensuring the division-wide implementation of those practices.

  • Are students going to lose accountability by changing these practices? Why/why not? Students are first and foremost accountable for their own learning. By creating an environment where the priority is not solely achieving a specific grade, but on mastering the content of the class, students are held to the challenge of meeting each and every standard taught. Failing a student or giving the student a zero for missing work only excuses the student from the work and the learning. Completing an assignment that was not done or re-doing an assignment that did not meet the standard sends the message to the student that the assignment does matter as a learner in the class.

The website says: “A draft of the [committee’s] recommendations will be posted on this site when they are made by the committee in the spring. At that time, the public will have additional opportunities to comment on suggested changes.”

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