Grades of zero for missing assignments could be eliminated—along with opportunities for extra credit and grading homework—as part of a comprehensive rewrite of school division grading policies under review by the School Board that could be in place by the next school year.
The proposed changes are the result of a year-long effort to streamline and standardize grading policies with the guidance of a consultant and input from focus groups of teachers, parents and college recruiters.
Eric Hornbaker (Ashburn) said the overarching goal was to ensure students have the best opportunity to master their lesson material.
“We’re trying to get students to learn. That is the key,” he said.
During a review of the proposal last week, Hornberger highlighted three of changes that have gotten attention.
Rules to prohibit issuing grades on homework assignments are designed to recognize that the work is intended as an extension of the classroom lesson, rather than a test of proficiency.
Prohibiting teachers for recording grades below 50 percent is designed to keep students striving to succeed, noting that the practices of assigning a low grade—such as a 0 or 10 or 25—to missing work can form an insurmountable obstacle to passing a class.
Hornberger saidissuing a 0 is defeating for students and does not encourage a “growth mindset.”
And, the elimination of extra credit? He said that is because it is currently used to provide “score recovery” or to encourage a behavior unrelated to demonstrating the mastery of assignments.
“That goes back to the philosophy of what grading and assessment is. If we are measuring a student’s learning, then extra credit really doesn’t do that,”saidAshley F.Ellis, the assistant superintendent for Instruction.
Instead of allowing opportunities for extra credit, students who score below a B on major assignments will be encouraged to improve their grades through a reassessment. In those cases, teachers will be required to provide additional guidance and then allow a do-over in hopes of increasing their score up to a cap of 80 percent.
“Reassessments encourage a growth mindset in students and allows them to demonstrate mastery,” the policy reads. “The student will be given the higher grade between the original assessment and the reassessment up to an 80%. Teachers, in consultation with the student support teams and parents, will provide students who demonstrate a pattern of repeated reassessments with an appropriate intervention, including limiting future opportunities for reassessment.”
It’s not clear that teachers are on board with the changes, with one cautioning the School Board during last week’s meeting that a lot of extra work may be required to usher students through the reassessment process. While consistence in grading would be welcome, regimentation may not be beneficial, she said.
A vote on the change is planned at the School Board’s next meeting.