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St. Clair County BOE talks new grading policy, transition from hybrid learning

Moody High School

ST. CLAIR COUNTY -- The St. Clair County Board of Education during its regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 20, discussed a new uniform grading system and updates on the hybrid learning program.

Grading system

St. Clair County Schools recently implemented a new uniform grading policy that will measure each student's total grade average on an equal scale rather than each individual teacher creating his/her own grading criteria.

The new method is based on a gold, silver and bronze grading system. 

Gold represents test scores, which count for 60 percent of a student’s grade average, while silver (major assignments) count for 30 percent and bronze (homework) for 10 percent. 

Superintendent Mike Howard emphasized that through the old system, students were not graded equally on the same material, with the differences being due to the different methodologies being used by different teachers. 

Howard said he has witnessed specific scenarios where one teacher’s grading criteria would place an emphasis on homework, while a different teacher would place a bigger emphasis on tests.

According to Howard, this would result in two drastically different grades for students learning the exact same material while doing the same amount of work.

Howard also said the old grading system allowed for students to earn an “A” without actually learning the material.

“Some students said that it was too easy to make an ‘A,’” Howard said. “[The old grading system] often graded on effort, not achievement.”

The new grading policy has received mixed reviews from parents. 

However, Howard said he realized a change such as this was necessary when schools within the system had valedictorians unable to score higher than 19 on the ACT, with other top students needing remediation in college.

Hybrid update

The board went on to discuss the upcoming transition of students from the hybrid program. At the end of the fall term, students will have to choose to either continue their education in a traditional setting or enroll in the virtual preparatory academy.

High School Curriculum Coordinator Wayne Trucks said the system will make an exception for seniors who rely on online classes to work but still want to graduate with their classmates.

Trucks and Elementary Curriculum Coordinator Lisa Glasgow also presented their plans for students who have utilized the hybrid and virtual options but are averaging Ds and Fs in their classes.

Glasgow said she plans to give her students the benefit of the doubt and assign them an incomplete grade rather than failing them. They will also be strongly encouraged to return to the traditional classroom if at all possible. From that point, the schools will remediate the students as needed.

Glasgow emphasized this was necessary for primary students who may not be receiving the proper help and support at home to do their assignments in the first place.

Trucks said the No. 1 priority is to return students who are struggling with virtual learning back to a traditional classroom in order to encourage success for each individual student.