School's new grading system: measure student growth instead of averaging numbers

(MGN Online)

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- Several school districts are looking at a new way of grading, but one district is moving forward with the plans.

The new grading proposal is all about measuring student growth and potential, instead of averaging the numbers throughout an entire school year.

"Sometimes you'll have a bad day and you won't get the best grade even though you know you can do really well in that class," said Phoebe Stevens, an 11th grader at Salem High School.

"It makes me feel like I'm just quitting for the rest of the year because it just like ruins my grade from that day and it's really hard to get back up," said Emma Bradley, also an 11th grader at Salem High School.

That's just what the school system hopes to avoid.

Under this proposed system, the grading scale would be the same, but at their discretion, teachers could factor student effort and growth into the ending grade.

"For example if a student takes three quizzes and then a test, let's say the first quiz they didn't do as well, but by the time they got to the test they really knew the material at an A level, we feel that student should have an A," said Curtis Hicks, the assistant superintendent for Salem City Schools.

Hicks said this new philosophy is something they've considered for years, focusing on what a student truly knows instead of the numbers.

"We expect students to struggle early in the learning process and as they continue to learn they'd do better later in the process," Hicks added.

While there's no research proving this is the best grading system, Hicks said he thinks the emphasis on student growth will help students stay on course and not give up throughout the year.

So far, parents, students, and teachers are giving the proposal positive feedback.

"The grade should be a reflection of the work that is done, but the way that the grade is viewed is important, we shouldn't be telling our kids that they have less value because they got a D, but we can identify that there is a place for growth for them to improve," said Steve McBride a Salem City Schools' parent.

The schools believe the new system will improve not only grades, but growth.

"This really allows students to understand that if they continue to work, continue to learn, where they are at the end of the learning process is going to mean more than where they were at the beginning," Hicks added.

The School Board will vote on the grading proposal at Tuesday's school board meeting, and Hicks said he expects it to pass.

Lynchburg City Schools said the same proposal had been discussed by the administration and was even brought to the school board, but no major policy changes have taken effect.

LCS said it decided that since it came up during a transitional period, it was agreed that they would wait to make any changes and it's not scheduled to be on the agenda in the near future.

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