The School Board’s Curriculum and Instruction Committee is reviewing proposed changes to the district’s policy governing grading and homework assignments, aiming to make homework an equitably-applied learning tool instead of an assessment of mastery of a subject.
The updated Policy 5030 also will not permit a single assignment or assessment to count for more than 25 percent of a student’s cumulative quarter grade. Prior to the pandemic, single assessments could not count for more than 20 percent of a cumulative grade. Focus group and community feedback indicated strong support for allowing assessments to count for a quarter of a grading period.
The committee at its June meeting also considered focus group feedback on homework, determining that it should count for no more than 10 percent of a marking period, to help ensure that the work helps to address students’ progress and reinforces concepts for students as opposed to being a continuation of testing.
“Focus group feedback is that homework is practice, and an opportunity for application, and should not be graded. Part of the situation is about the equity of that,” Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Ashley Ellis said. “For example, a student who has parents at home who are supporting them in their homework and can do seventh grade algebra well, versus a student required to do homework on his or her own without parent support.”
The policy makes a distinction between homework and summative assessments that take place outside of a classroom, such as more long-term coursework such as written papers and research assignments. Those assignments also may not count for more than 10 percent of a quarter grade.
“We want the learning to occur in the classroom so that the teachers can modify and personalize. We have a difference between teaching for learning and teaching for grading,” Neri Gonzalez-Sales, director of High School Education said.
Previously, teachers were allowed to use homework as summative assessments, grading the content of the work as opposed to just its completion.
The School Board is scheduled to vote on the changes to the policy during its Aug. 10 meeting, and to implement the changes for the 2021-2022 school year.