New grading system detailed
Pre-K-8 get scores on scale of 1 to 5
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.
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.
The new handbook.