CCPS eyes ma­jor grad­ing changes

Would end ‘50 floor rule’

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JES­SICA IANNETTA

jian­netta@ ce­cil­whig. com

— Sweep­ing changes to grad­ing poli­cies — in­clud­ing the end of the con­tro­ver­sial “50 floor rule” and new pro­ce­dures for re­tak­ing as­sign­ments — could be com­ing to county high schools and mid­dle schools as soon as this fall.

A com­mit­tee of about 20 high school and mid­dle school teach­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors have been study­ing po­ten­tial changes to the sec­ondary grad­ing sys­tem and on Wed­nes­day night, its ini­tial rec­om­men­da­tion was pre­sented to the Ce­cil County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion by Jeff Law­son and Joe Buck­ley, the ex­ec­u­tive direc­tors of high school and mid­dle school ed­u­ca­tion.

“These ( com­mit­tee mem­bers) are the best of our best. These are our ab­so­lute top teach­ers who were crit­i­cal, they were ab­so­lutely will­ing to say, ‘ Hey, look what you’re tr ying to do here is bro­ken’ and we re­ally took it to heart,” Law­son said.

A fi­nal set of rec­om­mended changes will likely be

ELK­TON

pre­sented to the board in April and the board would vote on the changes in May. If the board ap­proves the changes, they could be im­ple­mented in the fall, Law­son said.

These pro­posed changes would in­clude: Re­tire the “50 floor rule,” which man­dates that the lowest grade a stu­dent can re­ceive on an as­sign­ment is a 50. Change the nu­mer­i­cal range for a D grade from 65- 69 to 60- 69. Build a re­visit pe­riod into the end of the school day to al­low stu­dents to com­plete re­takes. Al­low stu­dents to re­take all as­sign­ments at least once. Stu­dents who score above an 85 on their first as­sign­ment won’t be el­i­gi­ble for a re­take. Stu­dents who score be­low an 85 and do re­take the as­sign­ment won’t be able to score above an 85. Re­quire teach­ers to sub­mit at least one grade ev­ery 10 school days. One of the com­mit­tee’s most sig­nif­i­cant rec­om­men­da­tions is to abol­ish the “50 floor rule.” This rule was orig­i­nally in­tro­duced as a way to give stu­dents who per­form badly in the be­gin­ning of the mark­ing pe­riod a chance to re­cover, Law­son said.

But when the com­mit­tee sur­veyed teach­ers, it found that about 75 per­cent of them were in fa­vor of re­tir­ing the “50 floor rule.” About the same amount sup­ported changes to the sys­tem’s re­take poli­cies but didn’t want to abol­ish re­takes com­pletely, Law­son said. Ad­di­tion­ally, many stu­dents have fig­ured out how to “game the sys­tem” by not com­plet­ing smaller as­sign­ments, know­ing those as­sign­ments counted for less and that they would re­ceive at least a 50 any­way, he added.

With all this in mind, the com­mit­tee stud­ied how it could elim­i­nate the “50 floor rule,” still pro­vide other ways for stu­dents to suc­ceed and put rules in place to pre­vent high­achiev­ing stu­dents from ex­ploit­ing loop­holes in the sys­tem, Law­son said.

The com­mit­tee’s pol­icy rec­om­men­da­tions gen­er­ated a lot of dis­cus­sion among the school board. Kather­ine Shields, the board’s stu­dent mem­ber, is a se­nior at Bo­hemia Manor High School, which al­ready has a re­visit pe­riod built into the day. BMHS has a re­visit pe­riod in the morn­ing and though Shields said she likes the cur­rent re­visit pe­riod, she thinks it will work even bet­ter at the end of the day since ath­letes who have to leave class early won’t miss new ma­te­rial.

Shields and the rest of the board was also sup­port­ive of the pro­posed pol­icy that would re­quire teach­ers to sub­mit one grade ev­ery 10 days. Board mem­ber Lau­ren Cam­phausen noted that this new pol­icy would pre­vent teach­ers from putting in a bunch of grades at the very end of the mark­ing pe­riod and catch­ing stu­dents by sur­prise with no chance to re­cover.

The new pol­icy on re­takes though, re­ceived more crit­i­cism, with many board mem­bers ask­ing how the 85 per­cent cap on re­takes was de­ter­mined.

High- achiev­ing stu­dents may take ad­van­tage of the cur­rent re­take pol­icy by not study­ing hard for the first test, Law­son said, since they know they can re­take it or they may want to take a test again and again to earn a few ex­tra points even though they did well. The 85 per­cent cap gives them more in­cen­tive to study hard the first time, Law­son noted, adding that 85 per­cent is the me­dian grade at the Univer­sity of Mary­land.

But Cam­phausen said she feels only al­low­ing stu­dents to get a B on the re­take flies in the face of the school sys­tem’s pol­icy about grades not be­ing a pun­ish­ment.

“Now we are build­ing in a pun­ish­ment and I’m not un­der­stand­ing that,” she said. “I can no longer de­fend that. It seems very ar­bi­trary.”

Shields, the stu­dent board mem­ber, said she was in fa­vor of the pro­posed re­take pol­icy, not­ing that al­though she does rely on re­takes for many of her AP and Hon­ors classes, many stu­dents rely on re­takes too much. She has heard from many of her friends who have grad­u­ated that they weren’t pre­pared for the lack of re­takes in col­lege, she said.

“I’ve heard from a lot of peo­ple that the ad­just­ment to col­lege has been kind of dif­fi­cult,” Shields said. “I think this would have helped them out mov­ing into col­lege.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY CARL HAMIL­TON

Two vis­i­bly up­set women em­brace shortly af­ter ar­riv­ing at the scene of a dou­ble homi­cide near Elk­ton.

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