New freshman interim system implemented

March 9, 2004, midnight | By Han Hu | 17 years, 3 months ago

The Blair administration now sends ninth graders interims every three weeks, beginning this semester, in an effort to raise freshman academic performance.

Approximately 26 percent of Blair freshmen were academically ineligible during the second marking period of this school year, according to ESOL Resource Teacher Joseph Bellino, who manages the data on freshmen grades. That number is a one-percent decrease compared to the first marking period and a three-percent decrease from the same time last year.

The new freshman interim system was implemented because more frequent feedback is better for students, and Connections teachers needed more frequent access to their students' academic progress, said Connections lead teacher Abbey Schneider.

Under the new system, freshmen receive their grades in all of their classes every three weeks. In addition, each Connections teacher will also read over the interim of each student in the class and take any necessary action to help students improve, such as calling parents or meeting with students, according to Schneider.

Assistant Principal Pamela Shetley believes the new interim system is "outstanding." "The consistent and continual feedback the system provides is essential for freshmen," she said.

Science Resource Teacher Jennifer Kempf is reserving judgment on the new system until she sees the results. "The goal is student achievement. If the system helps achievement, we need to keep it. If it doesn't, we need to try something else."

Honors Geometry teacher Paul Grossman supports the new effort to raise freshman performance but notes that grades for the first three weeks may be artificially high or low because not many assignments have been given in the short time period.

Freshman Victor Ramos concurred with Grossman's reservations about students' grades for the first three weeks. "I don't like the new interims because sometimes we don't have enough time to pull up our grades," said Ramos.

However, Blair parent Vicky Lovell, whose son is a freshman, is "very happy" to get interims more often because under the old system, by the time a student receives an interim, it may already be too late to change the grade. "The more feedback from teachers, the better it is for parents," said Lovell.

Freshman Katherine Willmott finds the new interims and their more specific comments helpful because while some of her teachers last semester did not tell give her regular grade reports during the marking period, she can now receive an update on all her grades every three weeks.

Under the old interim policy, an interim is sent out to students only if they have dropped two letter grades compared to the previous marking period or if the students are in danger of failing, according to Shetley.
Other MCPS high schools such as Northwest and Walter Johnson have implemented similar interim systems for their freshmen, according to Schneider.

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Han Hu. Han Hu, a senior in Blair's Magnet program, is very excited to serve as Managing News Editor on the Silver Chips staff. Aside from Chips, he is also a member of Blair's mock trial team, where he enjoys delivering cases at the county courthouse before … More »

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