The Tooele County School District is tweaking its district-wide student grading policy after using it for two terms.
The Tooele County School Board advanced to a second reading proposed changes to the district’s K-12 Grading Policy during its meeting Tuesday night at the district office.
The proposed changes include the number of scores in which students’ grades are based upon – from a range of seven to nine with three of those being assessments, to at least seven with three assessments.
The revision includes language clarifying that scores may come from tests, projects, formal/informal assessments, quizzes, demonstrations, papers and portfolios.
The policy already stated that final grade weighting is to include assessments, homework and classwork, with assessment weighing in at no more than 50 percent and homework at no more than 10 percent of the final garde. The balance of the grade is to come from classwork.
The proposed revision also changes the deadline for late work from within the quarter term in which it was assigned to up to each midterm and end of term. Work turned in three calendar days before the end of quarter forfeits the opportunity for revisions due to quarter end deadlines.
The grading policy allows for students to do “retakes” or redo work to demonstrate an increased proficiency of standards and/or objectives for the possibility of full credit, barring late work.
Late work is discounted by a 10 percent reduction in the score, according to the policy.
Several teachers took advantage of the public comment period at the beginning of the school board meeting to address the grading policy.
Holly Williams, a teacher at Grantsville High School, said that teachers at her school didn’t feel like they were consulted about the grading policy.
“I am happy we have a district wide policy,” she said. “But we need some tweaks. We should not have the same expectations for kindergarten students and seniors.”
Williams recommended separate policies for elementary, middle and high school.
Patty Bingham, a teacher at Overlake Elementary, said there has been a frustration at her school with the new policy.
“We need to incentivize students to get work turned in,” she said.
Rebecca Bates, a teacher at Tooele High School, said clarification is needed on when revisions can be turned in.
“Some assignments can’t be turned in late,” she said. “For example, some teachers require students to turn in a project for the science fair. You can’t turn in a project for the science fair once the science fair is over.”
Becca Hall, a teacher at West Elementary, said further readings and revisions of the grading policy are needed.
“The Tooele Education Association supports continued discussion on competency based learning,” she said.
Hall also pointed out that teachers have had to work additional hours outside of their contracted time to comply with the new grading policy.
Patricia Walker, director of teaching and learning for the school district, said the district waited for two terms to see how the policy worked and to conduct a survey of teachers, parents and administrators before they reconvened the original grading policy committee to look at revisions.
“One thing we learned was that the policy is not being fully implemented at all schools by all teachers,” she said. “It’s difficult to evaluate a policy that is not being fully implemented.”
A total of 538 stakeholders responded to the survey, which was distributed by email, the school district’s website and social media.
Overall, the respondents to the survey supported the grading policy’s grading scale and the provision of opportunities for students to redo work and assignments.
However, only 44 percent of secondary teachers expressed support for redoing work.
The grading policy’s position on final grade weighting was supported by 47 percent of all respondents. The 10 percent reduction in late assessment scores was supported by 55 percent of the respondents. The acceptance of late work within the quarter it was assigned was supported by 47 percent of the respondents.
“It would be helpful if we don’t incentive waiting until the last minute,” said school board member Alan Mouritsen. “That’s not real life.”
Walker said, “I would rather have students learning from having 20 late assignments due in three days at the end of the term and saying, ‘I’m not going to do this again,’ in the comfort of the K-12 system than when they are at college with a permanent transcript that’s going to follow them.”
The school board advanced the policy changes to a second reading, which means the policy changes will appear on a future agenda at which time the school board may approve the changes.