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All Grades No Glory

Photo courtesy of Jamela Vidal

Photo courtesy of Jamela Vidal

Jamela Vidal, Double Truck Editor

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High School is the last step in one’s educational path to college and the real world. These are the years that will define an individual’s own opportunities after departing from this last stage of cushioned learning. As a result, students kill to obtain and maintain passing grades through homework, classwork, projects, and assessments. At least, that was what it was like before Baltimore County implemented a new grading policy that excludes factors such as teacher-determined ungraded assignments, behavior, and attendance from our quarter and final grades.  The goal of this change was to focus on aspects that better reflect a student’s understanding of the material taught in school. However, this system is not definite as it has been declared that the grading system will continue to evolve into an arrangement that not only grades but assists students as well.

The exclusion of certain assignments in the grading system imposes more stress on assessment material. The best way to understand the ungraded versus graded system is to first understand why there is ungraded work in the first place. Look at it this way: why grade a student on material that they are still learning and probably have not fully understood yet? Ungraded work signifies that it is the first time that the material is exposed to students, in opposed to the previous change when all homework and non-assessment material were considered ungraded. Nonetheless, ungraded assignments serve as a template to the full comprehension lessons and allows teachers to individualize a student’s learning to their own pace, as well as give valuable feedback and advice for full understanding before the assessment. The system has been refined to focus more on the student’s learning and comprehension at their own speed.

The new grading policy also implements second chance learning and the new 50 percent rule to help students even more. Teachers are now required to give students a second chance at graded assignments, excluding unit exams, to obtain all the points lost the first time. Previously, students were only able to redo assignments for half the points they lost. The students are able to redo assignments after attending a coach class and increase their previous grade. The 50 percent rule states that the lowest grade that a student may get on an assignment is a 50 percent, to make it easier for students who struggle at first to bump up their grade and avoid discouraging them from trying in future assignments.

Grades now focus on graded work. However, ungraded assignments are not totally excluded from the grading system. Though the work is ungraded, it still acts as a learning mechanism to teach new material and deepen students’ understanding. Basically, a student’s understanding in ungraded assignments defines their success in graded assignments. Because of this, it is perfect evidence of the overall learning of a student and is taken into consideration for determining whether, or not, a student is deserving of their final grade. A student may speak with their teachers and together assess whether their final grade accurately defines their knowledge of the past coursework by looking at how well they did on ungraded assignments.

In addition to the grading policy, report cards will have a slight alteration. Aside from the regular quarter and final grade section, a skills and conduct section has been added. This section analyzes work completion, interactions with adults and peers within the classroom, and student behavior.  This rubric was added to give feedback on indicators not factored into class grades as further evidence of students’ performance in their classes.

The Baltimore County grading system will continue to evolve and change to better define and evaluate students in a way that is also designed to improve their overall education. Superintendent Dallas Dance is open to feedback and suggestions regarding Baltimore County grading policy to further refine the system. So send in your reviews and suggestions now for the benefit of our Baltimore County Public School system.

 

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The student news site of Pikesville High School
All Grades No Glory