Wake Ed

November 14, 2013

Wake County school board to discuss revising grading policy

Wake County school board members will discuss Thursday issues such as a “no zeros” grading policy and the district’s plan for serving gifted students.

You can expect some more fairly intense discussions about the Wake County school system’s grading policy today.

The school board’s student achievement and policy committees will have a joint meeting this afternoon to go over the staff’s proposed changes to the way grades are issued. As shown by the last committee discussion, there’s some strong differences in opinion among board members about how to handle things such as banning zeros and allowing students to get credit for work handed in late.

Click here to view what the policy committee looked at last month.

Since that discussion, the proposed changes have drawn quite a bit of attention.

For instance, this column Tuesday by Hannah Moshontz and Harris Cooper of Duke University raised possible problems that could occur if 50 replaces a zero as the lowest grade. The authors write that “minimum grading may be harmful to struggling but motivated students.”

“Under minimum grading, low grades are less diagnostic,” Moshontz and Cooper write. “How do we tell apart a student who got a 50 but didn’t hand in the work and a student who tried hard and knows half the material? A slacker inconsistently doing work and a struggling student consistently doing work may both receive the same grade.”

But they say that allowing students to get credit for late work is “simpler and lower risk.”

Other discussion topics for today’s meeting include the plan for serving academically and intellectually gifted students, the policy on providing acceleration and academic achievement opportunities and the tablet pilot program at East Cary Middle School.

The AIG plan and the policy for providing acceleration opportunities were recommended in an outside audit conducted of the program. Today’s meeting is supposed to allow board members to ask any questions before the vote on the AIG plan takes place Dec. 3.

As for the tablet program at East Cary, school administrators have been tightlipped about why they backed away from using federal Race to the Top grant money to continue the program. It’s the same model of tablets that Guilford County school officials pulled from their middle schools due to safety concerns.

In a recent Cary News article, school board member Bill Fletcher said East Cary didn’t have the same problems that Guilford had.

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The WakeEd blog is devoted to discussing and answering questions about the major issues facing the Wake County school system. WakeEd is maintained by The News & Observer's Wake schools reporter, T. Keung Hui.

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