Three weeks after issuing the 2003 Grading and Reporting Policy, the Board of Education (BOE) voted unanimously to delay implementation until July 2004 in response to community concerns voiced at a Sept 8 meeting.
The policy represented a three-year effort to reexamine grading, attendance and coursework procedures in a consistent manner county-wide, said Betsy Brown, co-chair of the MCPS Grading and Reporting Work Group.
Many educators disapproved of the short notice they were given, since the policy was issued one week before the start of school, and the lack of concrete guidelines, according to Principal Phillip Gainous. "No one could adequately answer the concerns and questions," he said.
Meanwhile, MCPS will examine curriculum revisions, redevelop procedures for special education and ESOL students, train faculty and mount a "humongous" public outreach program, said Brown.
The policy required all students to meet the same objectives, but did not account for students who fall behind, according to Gainous. "Here's what you need to know, and if you're not there then zap," he said.
This would especially affect two groups not covered by the policy, ESOL and special education students. The new policy would fail students below average classroom levels, said Gainous.
Lawrence Fogel-Bublick, a SPARC English teacher, found the policy troubling. "I'm not sure if it is realistic for students who are far below grade level to magically arrive at grade level," he said.
Social studies resource teacher Cherie McGinn said the homework regulations were confusing. "Our initial reaction was that it sounded like we couldn't assign homework at all, but we received word that it's not what they meant," she said.
Under the policy, homework did not earn points which would complicate the process of encouraging students to complete their work, explained Gainous.
In addition, student participation, a key part of courses such as physical education, would not be part of a student's grade, said Gainous.
Gainous expressed his concern with the policy to members of the faculty. "I told teachers that we should decide, while adhering to the spirit of the policy, to adhere to it in a way it wouldn't hurt the students," he said.
According to an informal Silver Chips survey of 78 teachers conducted on Sept 17, 63 percent felt the policy was inappropriate for students.
Elena Chung. After several failed attempts to start a school newspaper in elementary school, Elena Chung, a senior, has finally fulfilled a lifelong goal to write for a paper. When she's not hunting down sources or finishing loads of work, she enjoys taking photos, cooking, reading, watching … More »