News and Commentary

Another School District Scraps Letter Grades In Favor Of A ‘Gentler’ System
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 16: The alphabet covers a bulletin board in a kindergarten class at Sylvanie Williams College Prep elementary school, on January 16, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. New principal Krystal Hardy spends most of her time out of her office mentoring teachers and staff and spending time with the children. She is the face of the new type of principal. Fifty percent of the children here started the year below grade level in reading and math. The goal is to help them catch up and keep making progress. (Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman/The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images

A school district in Madison, Wisconsin, will be come the latest to abandon the traditional “letter grades” reporting model for a ‘kindler, gentler” assessment system, according to the College Fix.

A number of school districts, many in progressive enclaves not unlike the one in Madison, that surrounds the University of Wisconsin, have done away with A, B, C, D, and F on report cards in order to obscure a child’s true level of achievement, thus preserving their fragile psyches.

One father — an author for the popular education watchdog site — received his daughter’s report card this week only to notice it had no information on how his daughter was actually doing compared to her second grade peers or state-established education guidelines. Instead, students were given grades of, “EX,” “M,” “DV,” or “E.”

Per the key provided:

“Exceeding” – Student consistently exceeds grade-level expectations for the end of the year.

“Meeting” – Student consistently meets grade-level expectations for the end of the year.

“Developing” – Student is developing understanding and is approaching grade-level expectations for the end of the year.

“Emerging” – Student begins to show initial understanding of grade-level expectations for the end of the year.

Other school districts have embraced a “numerical” system, grading students on a 1-4 or 1-10 scale, based on how well they meet or exceed standards.

In Palo Alto, California, the effort began with a few targeted classrooms and is now moving district-wide.

“In Laurie Pennington’s science classes at Gunn High School, standards-based grading has tested students’ and parents’ firm attachment to traditional grades,” Palo Alto Online reported about one teacher’s effort. “This is the fourth year she’s used the form of grading that emphasizes students’ mastery of prescribed standards over rote learning. The practice is growing in popularity in schools across the country. Pennington believes it’s a more equitable, accurate and progressive way of evaluating students who learn in vastly different ways.”

“Standards-based learning evolved in response to what proponents see as flaws in the traditional grading system: the conflation of behavior and academics, averaging of scores, high-stakes tests and embedded inequalities that tip the scales toward students with more resources, such as tutors or homework help from parents,” according to the outlet. The system also allows for students to address problem areas without fear of being labeled inadequate.

In other school districts, the terms “failure,” and “at risk” are also being scrubbed, out of similar concern, according to Education Week. In California, the qualification, “at risk” is all but banned, and mentions of the term “in the state’s educational and penal codes have been changed to ‘at-promise,’ a term that supporters argue is less stigmatizing.”

Not everyone is a fan of the new system, though.

In Ohio, there’s a concerted effort to prevent school districts from moving away from the A-F grading system, according to local outlets there, because the system is easy to understand and familiar for parents, though critics do admit that the evaluations process could be improved. In northern Nevada, parents actually revolted against a school district that instituted the new system.

“Of the 176 parents who took the survey, 137, or about 78 percent, said they were opposed to the new three-tiered grading system that replaces the standard A-F grades,” a Tahoe-area paper reported.

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Another School District Scraps Letter Grades In Favor Of A ‘Gentler’ System