Restore Accountability in grading in VB Schools

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A group of concerned parents and teachers have come together to ensure that accountability in grading is not removed from secondary schools in the Va Beach School District. Practices such as "homework cannot be counted as part of the grade, points cannot be deducted for work turned in late, zeroes cannot be given, and test retakes are encouraged" have already been implemented in some Va Beach Middle and High Schools. This group wants those practices removed and is recommending that the following document on grading guidelines be adopted by the Va Beach School Board:

Some students may have extenuating circumstances in their lives which can impact learning. Guidance counselors or school psychologists should become involved in providing these students with extra support when needed. If a student habitually does not turn in work on time or achieves low test scores, the guidance department should assist the teacher in finding resources to help the student and get the parents involved to work toward a resolution. Exceptions should be made when necessary for special education students students and/or students on IEP, AT or 504 plans.

1. Extra Credit: Extra credit may be offered at the teacher’s discretion. If offered, it should be available to the entire class not just select students. It should also pertain to the topic of study. Extra credit assignments should not cost money (ex. bringing in supplies for the classroom).

2. Homework: Homework should have meaning and not be busy-work. Since it is a building block toward mastery, teachers should have discretion to count homework completion or accuracy as a portion of the grade. It should be limited to no more than 15% of the overall grade. In many classes, homework helps prepare the student for the next lesson; therefore, the student should be properly prepared to ensure that class time is meaningful for all students.

3. Late Work: Teachers will have the ability to deduct points for work not turned in by the assigned deadline. If a student is habitually late, the teacher should work with parents and the guidance department to change the behavior.

4. Zeroes: It is important for teachers to be able to enforce the completion of work by having the ability to assign a zero. A teacher may provide an opportunity for a student to make-up the zero through additional coursework or other remediation for partial credit. However, it is the student’s/parent’s ultimate responsibility to ensure work is completed on time.

5. Test Retakes: Retakes/reassessments are strongly discouraged and should be conducted when determined necessary by the teacher.

6. Cheating: If a student is found guilty of cheating, they should be given an unrecoverable grade of zero. It should be noted that many colleges expel students on their first offense of cheating.

7. Behavior: Behavior such as class disruption, talking in class, etc should not be a component of the grade. However, teachers should have the ability to include such things as class participation as a component of the grade.

8.Grading Scale: The current percentage grading scale as of school year 2015/16 should not be changed. Accountability factors should be a portion of the overall grade and not separated.

It is important to teach students the lesson of accountability and assess the overall student, and not just grade for mastery of material. Additionally, the Administration of the Virginia Beach School District should not have the ability to change or implement new or different grading guidelines without the approval of the School Board, even on a trial basis.

* It should be noted that alternative measures of enforcing accountability, such as detention, puts an undue burden on teachers. The idea that there should be a separate grade for accountability factors is not enforceable since the student would still be able to advance to a higher grade even if they have low accountability scores.

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