The Standards Based Grading system (SBG) is no more in the Quakertown Community School District. The heavily debated grading and teaching program will be replaced by a new model that the superintendent and administration will present to the board at the December 5th Board of School Directors meeting.
The board decided at its meeting Thursday night that various parameters would need to be included. The new program must be based on points and conform to Pennsylvania standards. All student work must be evaluated and count toward academic grades including homework, final exams and midterms, which will be strongly encouraged and at the discretion of the teacher. Schoolwork assignment deadlines will have to be enforced and remediation will have to have specific parameters.
The board amended the initial proposal to include grades six through twelve rather than just the high school.
The controversial SBG system led to an almost entire hour of public comments before the board voted on the proposal.
Several parents addressed the board about their various concerns with this grading system currently used throughout the Quakertown Community School District. SBG runs on a four-point scale, with a three indicating proficient progress towards a learning target and a four indicating an exceeding of the learning target, according to the school district website. Many parents felt that students struggled to understand how to achieve a four and that kept them in the three range, which could hold them back in the future.
“I’ve never heard a single person think Standards Based Grading was a good thing,” said Amy Einhoff, a local parent. “Standards Based Grading doesn’t clarify what the score actually is. Most kids come away with this very generic general three. It’s too difficult to get an A. Why would we stay with a system that so poorly communicates how our students stand?”
SGB also offers some opportunities for remediation. Students can sometimes retake tests if teachers believe that they gave their “best effort first try.” Several parents also spoke at the district board meeting about how this aspect of SGB creates a confusing system where students expect second chances.
“How long before a motivated student learns that he can earn the same grade with a lot less work?” asked Michelle Ross, another local parent.
Alyssa Climber, a National Merit Scholar from Quakertown High School, offered an alternative perspective to the basically entirely negative opinion of parents present at the meeting. Climber credited SBG with her ability to skip courses she excelled beyond, allowing her more access to Advanced Placement and honors courses.
“Standards Based Grading allowed me to get ahead in classes and focus on different things in different classes,” she said. “We can focus on which ones have our strengths and weaknesses and it allows room to remediate weaknesses.”
The board decided in favor of the many complaints they had been for months now.
The new plan will be presented to the board at their December 5, 2013 meeting. The plan will be evaluated and revised if necessary by the board to be included in the new Program of Studies booklet for the 2014-2015 school year.