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Dover Post
  • Capital grading system takes heat

  •     A small group of upset parents and students voiced their distaste for Capital School District’s new grading policy at the Oct. 15 meeting.


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  •     A small group of upset parents and students voiced their distaste for Capital School District’s new grading policy at the Oct. 15 meeting.
        The major sticking point is the policy’s use of an 80/20 ratio of grading, counting summative work (exams, final drafts, projects, performance assessments) for 80% of the grade, and formative work (homework, drafts, discussion questions, quizzes, etc.) for 20%. This means grades should be based on learning, not on behavior, participation and attitude.
     
       Although this was the goal when the pilot program was implemented, some parents say their students are being negatively affected by the 80/20 rule.
     
       “You are playing around with these kids’ futures. My son is a junior. I pity the parents who have students who are seniors,” Beth Berrie said.
     
       She noted that colleges using early admissions standards might be looking at first quarter grades, which could hurt students who up until this year were stellar.
     
       Berrie’s son Dalton is seventh in the junior class. Dalton, who said he is holding his place by 1/1,000 of a point, argued that the difference between an 80/20 rule and a 70/30 could be huge when it comes to situations like his.
     
       The instructional team charged with researching the new policy presented an update on it. According to Supervisor of Instruction Sandy Spangler, grades collected four and a half weeks into this school year compared to the same time last year showed 44 Dover High class averages were at the same level as last year, 47 are showing higher grades this year and 54 are showing lower grades.
     
       Advanced Placement courses showed a positive trend with 57% showing higher averages and 67% of special education class averages are higher, too.
        Nevertheless, Dalton, who takes a number of AP classes, said he has spoken to many students who feel the ratio is unfair. He said the new policy can lead teachers to force summative items into a short time to meet the four summative items per marking period requirement.
     
       Spangler also presented a sampling of this year’s grades thus far with the 80/20 split as opposed to a 70/30 split.
     
       “Can I personally, in my position, live with the 70/30? Sure,” said Dr. Michael Thomas, superintendent.
     
       He mentioned that overall, the 80/20 and 70/30 differences were slight. 
     
       “Either way you go, [there is] a little bit of gain or a little of loss,” he said.
     
       That little bit of gain may look small statistically, said parent Connie Hayes, but could mean the difference between an A or a B.
     
       Hayes was grateful board President Ray Paylor opened up the floor to parent and student comments at the meeting, and said the board has been receptive to meeting with concerned parents.
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       “The Board did not make a motion of any changes to the policy,” Paylor said in an email. “However, the Board plans to continue to monitor the situation and evaluate data at the end of the marking period.”
    Email Sarika Jagtiani at sarika.jagtiani@doverpost.com
     

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