Some teachers embrace new grading policy

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Some teachers embrace new grading policy

Sarah Sabawi, Staff Writer

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The new grading policy coming next year will change how Branham students are graded and what they are graded on.

The policy aims to target inequity in grading by establishing a standards-based grading system across all classes in the district. Among the changes:

  1. The system will be rubric-based and grade students only on academic mastery subjects.
  2. Behavior will no longer be able to affect a student’s final grade.
  3. Homework will not be able to count for more than 20%.

This policy will be applied across all CUHSD sites sometime in the next few years.

“It’s less confusion, it’s more universal, and it’s easier for incoming students to understand and adapt to,” senior Clarabelle Walkup, a student board member, said.

In the past, grading systems have varied between schools, between departments, and even between teachers. English teacher Rachelle Burnside, one of the teachers on the planning committee for the policy, said that this variation was a point of concern for the district.

“A kid should earn a grade because they’ve demonstrated academic mastery of the subject, not because in one person’s class this is what mastery looks like, and that’s a different standard than in a second teacher’s class,” Burnside said.

The policy was initially proposed in order to end what is jokingly referred to around the district as “the uber F”—the fact that 59 percent of the standard grading scale is an F, while other letter grades are about 10 percent each.

“That’s a disproportionate amount of failure,” Burnside said. “The uber F is not statistically appropriate, so it can no longer be used.”

Not everyone is in favor of the policy, however. Upon its announcement, Westmont High School filed a grievance against the district, claiming that it did not have the right to impose grading policies. The committee claims that these arguments are based in misconceptions.

“I think that a lot of teachers feel very emotionally attached to their grading system,” Burnside said. “Teachers don’t like change, and any time there’s any proposed change someone freaks out.”

Science teacher Juan Fernandez, who is also on the grading committee, supports the change.

“I believe there is a misconception that students get a grade for not doing anything,” Fernandez said. “The other one is ‘well, we’ve been grading like this for 150 years, what’s wrong with it?’ And there is still a lot of things that are wrong with it”.

They also want to make it clear that the policy will still let teachers grade how they want. Although the policy does put certain regulations on grading, it will not force all teachers to follow a specific scale.

The district is focusing on training teachers to grade accordingly.

“It’s a long process that’s going to take an enormous amount of support and communication from the district and the teachers,” Burnside said. “They’re going to have to invest a lot of time and resources into supporting teachers to do it well.”