New grad­ing sys­tem de­tailed

Pre-K-8 get scores on scale of 1 to 5

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - FRONT PAGE - By Richard Pay­erchin

A new hand­book ex­plains the changes in the grad­ing sys­tem used for pre-K to eighth-grade stu­dents in Lo­rain City Schools.

The new Par­ent Mini-Hand­book out­lines how Lo­rain Schools teach­ers will use stan­dards-based grad­ing to rank how stu­dents are learn­ing in the el­e­men­tary school class­rooms.

In­stead of a tra­di­tional grade point av­er­age method, stu­dents will re­ceive grades based on a scale of 1 to 5 to in­di­cate how they are learn­ing in read­ing, math, science and so­cial stud­ies.

Lo­rain Schools has posted the hand­book on the dis­trict web­site.

It will be avail­able on pa­per later this month.

Com­mu­nity con­fu­sion

In re­cent weeks, the changes have caused some con­fu­sion among stu­dents, par­ents, teach­ers and Lo­rain res­i­dents, said mem­bers of the Lo­rain City Schools board of ed­u­ca­tion.

Board mem­bers Tony Di­mac­chia, Mark Bal­lard, Yvonne John­son, Bill Sturgill and Tim­o­thy Wil­liams dis­cussed the grade among other is­sues tak­ing place within the schools.

Wil­liams and Di­mac­chia said the school board re­ceived no for­mal no­tice or ex­pla­na­tion about the changes.

“There’s a lot of ques­tions around this new sys­tem of stan­dard-based grad­ing,” Wil­liams said dur­ing the board’s Oct. 1 meet­ing. “A lot of peo­ple are ask­ing a lot of ques­tions be­cause they don’t un­der­stand what it means.”

“Nor do the teach­ers,” Di­mac­chia said. “They’re the ones that got to use it.”

“I’ve got it from both,” Wil­liams said.

“There’s enough ques­tions be­ing asked and state­ments be­ing made by both teach­ers and par­ents … that there’s ob­vi­ously some lack of clar­ity, or peo­ple need more in­for­ma­tion.”

Chang­ing the grad­ing scale could be ac­cept­able if every­one in­volved were ready for the new sys­tem at the start of the school year, Di­mac­chia said.

“What I’m not OK with is, we’re two months into the school year,” and in­terim grades came out late be­cause the dis­trict is chang­ing dur­ing the school year, he said.

“Teach­ers have no idea how to do it, par­ents are con­cerned about it, stu­dents have no idea what it means,” Di­mac­chia said.

Need for change

The change in grad­ing method is among of nu­mer­ous shifts tak­ing place in Lo­rain Schools, said CEO David Hardy Jr., who ac­knowl­edged the dis­trict must do things dif­fer­ently to get bet­ter aca­dem­i­cally.

Hardy re­ferred to “The Op­por­tu­nity Myth,” a study that found stu­dents get­ting A’s and B’s on their high school re­port cards were not pre­pared for col­lege.

“And I don’t want that to hap­pen to our kids,” he said. “I want our kids to ex­cel, I want them to be suc­cess­ful, I want them to feel suc­cess­ful, I want them have the self es­teem to go and achieve great things. When they dream big, I want them to dream big­ger.”

To do so, the dis­trict, teach­ers and par­ents must hold stu­dents to high ex­pec­ta­tions, Hardy said.

That is the pur­pose of stan­dards-based grad­ing be­cause it forces ed­u­ca­tors to look at the stu­dents’ mas­tery of skills in a more com­plete and com­pre­hen­sive way, he said.

It will take time for peo­ple to un­der­stand the new method, Hardy said.

“But at the same time, I can­not sac­ri­fice the well­be­ing of our young peo­ple along the way,” he said. “So, we need to make sure they’re get­ting the feed­back nec­es­sary to con­tinue to grow while we also ed­u­cate those that are im­ple­ment­ing it and those that are re­ceiv­ing stan­dard-based grades.”

How it works

The method of stan­dards-based grad­ing uses a learn­ing scale from 1 to 5 in­stead of a tra­di­tional point-av­er­age method.

On the scale, a 5 in­di­cates a stu­dent is per­form­ing at an ad­vanced level with ad­vanced mas­tery of con­tent knowl­edge and skills.

A 1 shows a stu­dent has a min­i­mal com­mand of Ohio’s learn­ing stan­dards.

“Stan­dards-based grad­ing and re­port­ing pro­vides schol­ars, par­ents and teach­ers with more de­tailed in­for­ma­tion about scholar learn­ing than the tra­di­tional sys­tem of grad­ing,” ac­cord­ing to the hand­book.

The core con­tent ar­eas are read­ing, math, science and so­cial stud­ies.

The stu­dent scores “di­rectly re­flect scholar growth and pro­fi­ciency ac­cord­ing to aca­demic stan­dards,” the hand­book says.

Stu­dents also are graded on nonaca­demic fac­tors such as ef­fort, par­tic­i­pa­tion, punc­tu­al­ity, prepa­ra­tion and work com­ple­tion.

The hand­book out­lines how the method dif­fers from tra­di­tional grad­ing.

It also in­cludes poli­cies on home­work, re­tak­ing as­sign­ments, turn­ing in work late and spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion.

Stu­dents must main­tain a core value score of at least 2 to par­tic­i­pate in ath­let­ics.

There are con­sid­er­a­tions for re­ten­tion of stu­dents.

Teach­ers are to con­sider read­ing skills, men­tal abil­ity, age, phys­i­cal ma­tu­rity, emo­tional and so­cial de­vel­op­ment, so­cial is­sues, home con­di­tions and grade av­er­age, ac­cord­ing to the hand­book.

There should be doc­u­men­tary and anec­do­tal ev­i­dence to jus­tify re­ten­tion, the hand­book says.

SUB­MIT­TED

The new hand­book.

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