Giving principals more control over how students in their schools are graded and creating a more consistent grading system were among the topics discussed Wednesday during a Kennewick School Board retreat.
The board met Wednesday night to begin reviewing the school year and district policies and philosophies.
No changes have been made yet, but board members voiced a desire to see a more consistent and transparent system to evaluate student performance that would hold students accountable but not penalize those who don't grasp a subject's concepts right away.
However, they and Superintendent Dave Bond said the board likely will need to take a general approach to any policy changes and even that could be tricky.
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"This is a messy area to wade into," he said.
The district currently has a brief policy regarding grades and its role in student instruction, evaluation and achievement.
Grading primarily is left to teachers to decide and systems can vary widely, Bond said. Some teachers allow extra credit or late work. Others may base the bulk of a semester's grade on one or two test scores.
There also are different scales, such as the traditional "0 to 100" and "A to F" scales or the four-point system of standards-based grading, currently in use in three of the district's four middle schools.
"We have about 800 teachers in the district. How many different grading systems do you think we have?" Bond asked board members.
As a result, a student who does well with one system may get low grades in another, Bond said. Consistent grading systems, perhaps on a grade or building level and regulated by principals, could make it easier for students to understand what's expected of them and meet expectations.
Board chairwoman Dawn Adams said personal experience showed her the importance of having a grading system that was easy to understand and clear about what is expected.
"I actually had a situation with one of my kids where it was a secret on how to get an A," she said. "We need to be out there and communicating."
The board struggled with whether grading should be limited strictly to academic work and whether studentsshould be able to redo or turn in late work and still receive credit.
"You know there are people who take advantage of leniency," said board member Heather Kintzley regarding redoing assignments.
However, board member Ben Messinger said his educational philosophy is that students should master subjects and redoing work would go toward that goal. Bond and Adams agreed.
"Students don't all learn at the same pace," Adams said.
The board instructed Bond to draft a grading practices policy based on their discussion. It is expected to be presented to the board for further discussion next month.
-- Ty Beaver: 582-1402; email@example.com