Oak Creek grading scale changes de-emphasize late work

Learning would be the ultimate goal

Sept. 26, 2012

Oak Creek - A proposed grading policy could mean students at Oak Creek Middle and High schools can turn zeros for late assignments into full points. If implemented, it could also see those students sitting with teachers on a daily basis to discuss how those zeros affect their grade.

The changes are designed to align the middle and high school grading scales and to implement new procedures for how late assignments, extra credit and remediation are handled.

Under the proposal, a percentage grade - like 92 percent - would carry the same letter grade in middle school as in high school. It would raise the bar for grading for middle school students while slightly lowering it for high school students.

Right now, middle school students who score a 59 percent or less get an F. At the high school, a 69 percent or less is F. The proposed system would make a 65 percent or less an F at both levels.

Curriculum Coordinator Chad Evenson said: "What we really were concerned about is that the transition from eighth to ninth grade is a big transition in both the amount of work that's required and the difficulty of that work. Throwing in a higher percentage to get a letter grade and understanding that material at the high school made it even a tougher transition."

Learning stressed

The proposed changes also would affect how late and missing assignments are graded. Missing assignments would be tagged with an M and students would be allowed three days to a week, depending on the assignment, to complete the work.

If the work isn't turned in by then a grade of zero will be entered for the assignment. Students will be allowed additional opportunities to make up missing work and raise the score even after the zero is entered.

"We want them to do the work because that's part of the learning process," Sara Burmeister, superintendent of the Oak Creek-Franklin School District, said. "If they don't get it the first time, we want to reteach it so they get it because if they don't learn it they're going to fall further and further behind. That's not going to help them when they enter the work force or the adult world."

A shift in responsibility

The proposal is to allow time each day for teachers to meet with students and look over their grades. Teachers would then show students the impact that a zero would have.

Homework will only be included in the lesson plan when it comes with feedback from the teacher and will only account for 10 percent of a student's grade.

The changes would also see teachers meeting with any students who received a 70 percent or less on assessments. The teachers would then attempt to schedule remediation time with the students and allow them to retake the assessment.

Although 70 percent is the cutoff for teachers to meet with students, any grade can be rewritten if the student approaches the teacher and goes through the remediation process.

Evenson said: "The teachers are going to work hard with the student to arrange a time to come in. They're going to contact the parents and say, 'Your son or daughter really needs to come in.' Where the student who receives an 80 or 85 percent, the teacher isn't going to go out of their way to contact the parents, but if the student feels that they wish they knew more, they're always welcome to come in and go through that same remediation process."

Attendance not considered

Attendance would not be part of the grading process. Attendance would be noted and any repeated truancy would be met with disciplinary actions not linked to the grade.

"Unfortunately if a student misses class too often, they're missing the learning," Burmeister said. "You can't use a grade to reflect the student's attendance or behavior. Grades are not something that can be used as a reward or punishment."

The use of extra credit would be limited under the new guidelines. Any extra credit given would have to reflect the student's understanding of the curriculum.

Moving forward

The School Board has tabled the proposed changes due to the parental concerns about the need to stress concepts like meeting deadlines and being in class.

The changes will be discussed in a special meeting Oct. 22. The grading committee will give a presentation on their reasoning behind the proposed changes and will try to have an administrator from the University of Wisconsin's enrollment division available.

Next Step

WHAT: discussion of proposal grading scale

WHO: Oak Creek-Franklin School Board

WHEN: 6 p.m. Oct. 22

WHERE: district office, 7630 S. 10th St.

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