Partial implementation to occur during 2004-2005 school year
The revised Montgomery County grading policy has been partially implemented in first through eighth grades this year and will officially be applied in high schools beginning in the 2005-2006 school year. All aspects of the grading policy will be in full effect throughout the entire school system by 2008.
The policy was written because of "reforms in education," explained Betsy Brown, Director of Curriculum/Grading and Reporting. "The School Board was very interested in aligning curriculum and assessment and having the grades carry consistent meaning," she said.
The new policy, which was written in 1986, was last revised in 1993. The School Board passed the 84 page document unanimously in March 2003. "The School Board is very happy with the new policy," said Brown.
Because the school system seeks consistency in every classroom, the school system has implemented standard-based grading and reporting. Standard-spaced grading and reporting comes in response to Montgomery County and the state of Maryland giving standardized tests such as the High School Assessment (HSA) and the Maryland School Assessment (MSA). The new system is designed for students to effectively master the expectations outlined in each course. Over the next five years, standard based grading will be fully implemented throughout the entire school system, starting with grades one to two in 2005, three to five in 2006, six to eight in 2007 and nine to 12 in 2008.
As part of the new plan, there will be two separate report cards: one that reports academic performance and another that reports learning skills, which are defined as "skills that help or hinder a student's learning," according to the grading policy. Learning skills will be reported starting next school year at the high school level.
Another part of the policy is the change in the homework system. There will be homework for assessment, which will be graded for accuracy, and optional homework for practice, so that students can practice skills without being graded for correctness. Homework is only to be assigned after a teacher has taught a skill in the classroom. Teachers are also discouraged from grading homework or other assignment using percentages for grades, but are encouraged to use letter grades of A-B-C-D-E or numbers of 4-3-2-1-0 to grade materials.
During the summer of 2004, the county prepared to teach teachers about the new grading policy. "The county developed four video modules and supplemental materials accompanied the videos," Brown said. "There are also staff development teachers in every building to provide training for the teachers."
English teacher David Douglass is experimenting with the new rules because the policy suggests that teachers use the revised grading policy during the current school year in preparation for their classroom protocol next school year. "I will be implementing the homework end, meaning that I will try not to give homework that I haven't already gone over," he said. "Unless you've taught these skills in class, you can't grade them."
Senior Matt Warren agrees that the policy recognizes accuracy over effort. "It gets me mad because some people can't get it right," he said. "If you try your hardest and don't get it, [the effort] doesn't mean anything."
Other students believe that the new grading policy will make homework more meaningful. "Most teachers give busy work, and that needed to be shut down," said senior Erinn Johnson Long. "Homework should have a purpose."
To view a full version of the grading policy click here.
Adedeji Ogunfolu. Adedeji Ogunfolu is now a senior. Besides working dilligently on the Silver Chips Online staff, he is an extremely enthusiastic musician. He is not ashamed to tell people that he has been to band camp, but he prefers to call it orchestra camp. He has … More »