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Community Forum FAQ

More than 90 questions were submitted at the Fair and Equitable Grading Practices Forum, which was held Nov. 5 at Princess Anne Middle School.

Many of these questions were duplicative - or had similar themes. In addition, several questions asked about the specific implementation of new grading practices in schools. At this time, there are no specific recommendations in place. The Fair and Equitable Grading Practices Committee will be working throughout the winter on its recommendations and will be presenting those to the School Board in the spring. Once those are developed, they will be made public for specific comments, questions and feedback.

While the committee continues its work, all of these questions have been provided to the members for their review. A sampling of those questions also appears with answers below. Additional information will be posted on this page as the committee’s work moves forward.

How will this type of grading policy, specifically retakes, prepare students for the “real world?”

There are numerous “real world” scenarios where retakes are a common practice. For example, if you fail a driving exam, the Department of Motor Vehicle allows you the opportunity to retest without penalty. If you fail the bar exam, you are given the opportunity to retest. When students take the SAT test, the College Board allows students to take the test multiple times and take the higher result from each test administration. These scores are not averaged nor are students penalized for taking the test multiple times.

In terms of real world accountability, Dr. Thomas Guskey told attendees at the forum that students should be held accountable by making them do the work. If they fail to complete an assigned task, then they should be held to the highest of expectations by requiring them to complete the work. For more on this, see this question as addressed in the school division’s FAQ.

How is effort accurately measured as a grading element?

Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) holds to the belief that grades are designed solely to reflect the level of mastery of standards. Student effort does not reflect whether or not a student has mastered the specific content of a standard being taught.

Where is the data that shows that a no-zero policy helps enhance student achievement?

There is not any available data to indicate a “no zero” policy would enhance student achievement. However, there is also no data available to indicate the use of zero enhances student achievement either.

How do you enforce these new grading policies in the classroom?

It is important to note that there are no new grading recommendations or policies at this point. However, generally speaking, with any new division policy, additional training and resources would be required for all instructional staff. Once training is completed, it is the division expectation that a new policy is followed.

How will VBCPS implement a grading system that will be applied equally from school to school and teacher to teacher?

The grading committee was developed for this very reason because currently grading practices across the secondary level are not consistent. The goal of the committee is to make recommendations that more clearly define the non-negotiables around grading for all secondary schools so there is more consistent practices in place.

Once these practices are defined, the school division will communicate them to all staff and prepare the necessary training and professional development around their implementation.

How long did Dr. Guskey teach middle school?

Dr. Guskey taught middle school for two years.

Will Dr. Guskey’s PowerPoint be made available for review?

The PowerPoint was posted on the Fair and Equitable Grading Practices website the Monday after the Fair and Equitable Grading Practices Forum. It can be accessed here.

How much was Dr. Guskey paid for this presentation?

Dr. Guskey was paid $11,500 to meet with the Fair and Equitable Grading Practices Committee and provide insight as a nationally recognized expert in this area. That fee also included his presentation at the Fair and Equitable Grading Practices Community Forum. This figure is in line with fees for national speakers.

What does the kid who “gets it” do while the others are getting remediation?

Teachers are already differentiating instruction to meet students where they are in their learning and to help them move toward mastery. Staff have received and continue to receive professional development on meeting the needs of individual students. The expectation is that teachers are and will continue to tailor his/her instruction so as to remediate those who need extra assistance and provide enrichment for those who have mastered the standard.

What is the best way to stay current on what college admissions boards are looking for?

Each school’s guidance office has the latest resources, information and insight in terms of college admission requirements and what current colleges and universities are seeking in potential students. Parents can also recommended to frequently check respective college admissions websites for school requirements and review the types of questions on the application. Lastly, all colleges and universities have an admissions office that can be contacted directly for more information.

Last Modified on Thursday, June 15, 2017