VIRGINIA BEACH – The school division’s Fair and Equitable Grading Committee recently released its recommended grading policy changes for next school year, but it isn’t the only group that has dived into the issue.
A parent-led organization, Restore Accountability in Grading in VB Schools, which formed to oppose some of the grading changes being discussed within the division, has released its own recommendations. They are:
1. Extra Credit: Extra credit may be offered at the teacher’s discretion. If offered, it should be available to the entire class not just select students. It should also pertain to the topic of study. Extra credit assignments should not cost money (ex. bringing in supplies for the classroom).
2. Homework: Homework should have meaning and not be busy-work. Since it is a building block toward mastery, teachers should have discretion to count homework completion or accuracy as a portion of the grade. It should be limited to no more than 15% of the overall grade. In many classes, homework helps prepare the student for the next lesson; therefore, the student should be properly prepared to ensure that class time is meaningful for all students.
3. Late Work: Teachers will have the ability to deduct points for work not turned in by the assigned deadline. If a student is habitually late, the teacher should work with parents and the guidance department to change the behavior.
4. Zeroes: It is important for teachers to be able to enforce the completion of work by having the ability to assign a zero. A teacher may provide an opportunity for a student to make-up the zero through additional coursework or other remediation for partial credit. However, it is the student’s/parent’s ultimate responsibility to ensure work is completed on time.
5. Test Retakes: Retakes/reassessments are strongly discouraged and should be conducted when determined necessary by the teacher.
6. Cheating: If a student is found guilty of cheating, they should be given an unrecoverable grade of zero. It should be noted that many colleges expel students on their first offense of cheating.
7. Behavior: Behavior such as class disruption, talking in class, etc should not be a component of the grade. However, teachers should have the ability to include such things as class participation as a component of the grade.
8.Grading Scale: The current percentage grading scale as of school year 2015/16 should not be changed. Accountability factors should be a portion of the overall grade and not separated.
“It is important to teach students the lesson of accountability and assess the overall student, and not just grade for mastery of material,” the group’s petition for the changes reads. “Additionally, the Administration of the Virginia Beach School District should not have the ability to change or implement new or different grading guidelines without the approval of the School Board, even on a trial basis.”
The group included a disclaimer at the beginning of its recommendations:
“Some students may have extenuating circumstances in their lives which can impact learning. Guidance counselors or school psychologists should become involved in providing these students with extra support when needed. If a student habitually does not turn in work on time or achieves low test scores, the guidance department should assist the teacher in finding resources to help the student and get the parents involved to work toward a resolution. Exceptions should be made when necessary for special education students students (sic) and/or students on IEP, AT or 504 plans.”
The group used an online survey to help it gather public opinion on the grading issues while forming its recommendations. As of Sunday, the survey showed 762 responses, with 331 identifying themselves as a parent, 205 identifying themselves as a teacher, 143 identifying themselves as a Virginia Beach community member, and 27 saying they are students.
The survey included seven other questions, including, “Do you think that the completion of homework that is meant to help achieve mastery should be a component of the student’s grade?” and “How should a student be punished if it has been verified that the student has cheated?”
The group submitted its recommendations to the School Board for consideration.
“We hope you will consider this survey and take into consideration the viewpoints of the citizens of Virginia Beach,” the group wrote in an email.
Chairman Dan Edwards replied in an email obtained by Southside Daily, thanking the group for its effort and input on the process. He asked it to share the recommendations with the district’s grading committee, if it had not already done so.
Edwards said in the email that the district has not enacted any policies or changes and will consider the group’s input as well.
The division is holding two roundtable discussions in the next two weeks to continue gathering public input on the matter. The first event begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Kellam High School. The second is 6:30 p.m. on March 22 at First Colonial High School.
Previous grading coverage:
- March 12: Virginia Beach grading committee releases preliminary recommendations
- March 6: ODU professor calls out potential grading policy changes in Virginia Beach Public Schools
- March 2: Beach School Board Members weigh in on grading debate, discuss the role of homework, participation
- Feb. 10: Dissatisfied parents speak out on proposed grading practices
- Jan. 20: Parents plan their own forum to discuss grading policy changes at Virginia Beach schools
- Dec. 14: Virginia Beach Schools’ grading committee lists timeline for recommendations
- Nov. 18: Virginia Beach School Board members field criticism from parents on grading forum
- Nov. 6: Forum on grading practices leaves parents dissatisfied
- Nov. 4: Parents criticize grading guidelines in schools
- Nov. 2: A or B? Inconsistent grading policies prompt review by Beach schools committee