(From Oct. 20, 2013) Parents hate it, teachers hate it, heck, even the Joplin R-8 Board of Education members have talked about it in negative terms and they are the ones who are supposed to be running the school district.
So naturally, there can'be any possibility that standards-based grading will ever take hold in the Joplin R-8 School District.
The board reluctantly allowed pilot programs of standards-based grading to be used at East Middle School and two elementary schools. While I cannot say for certain that all of the teachers at the elementary schools are doing it, I know the order was given at East Middle School- all teachers are to use standards-based grading.
Parents have complained about it, teachers haven't as far as I know (they like being employed), but most of the ones I have talked to about it have complained bitterly because they do not think it is the best thing for students.
If so many people are against it and the board has expressed dislike, then why is it being done.
And why did East Middle School Assistant Principal Jason Weaver tell East teachers at a meeting earlier this year that standards-based grading would be implemented at all R-8 schools next year, including Joplin High School?
One reason and one reason alone, Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer wants it that way, so that is the way it is going to be- school board be darned.
The revelation about standards-based grading was made Saturday night at the informational meeting on Common Core Standards held at the Mills Anderson Justice Center on the Missouri Southern State University campus.
"I was told this would not happen without a board vote," Missy Braun, the mother of two R-8 students said. Apparently, at some juncture R-8 Board of Education members came up with the silly notion that they were in charge of educational policy in the school district just because the people elected them to be in charge of educational policy.
"The East teachers were told that standards-based grading will be brought to the entire district next year, including the high school."
Under standards-based grading, traditional letter grades for a subject like communication arts (English) are replaced by a notation that a student has met a certain standard like, for instance, he has mastered proper citation of sources in a research paper. As Ms. Braun noted, a student can fail to do that five times, get it right on the sixth, and be considered to have mastery.
Deadlines are also problematic under standards-based grading. If a teacher assigns a paper for Wednesday, since the student already knows that he does not have to turn it on Wednesday to get the grade, it might be several weeks before a teacher will receive an assignment. Meeting the deadline can be included in a separate category, but it is not the one that parents will seek out.
Students no longer will receive zeroes for not completing assignments. If they do not turn in anything, they will receive a "no evidence" notation, but otherwise they can turn in things whenever they want and they will be still be accepted at full credit.
There has also been concern expressed about using the grades at the high school level, where they would replace grade point average.
Proponents of standards-based grading say it gives a truer reflection of what a student actually knows rather than just giving a B for history for instance and not knowing what specific skills the student has mastered.
This is the first public meeting where the information on the expansion of standards-based grading has been mentioned, but it was first revealed in an August 17 article on the Inside Joplin website, in which I wrote the following: