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District updates grade book software; shows teachers how to explain grades
Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) officials Ron Mayberry and Dave Davis gave the school board a brief update on the district’s grade book software, saying that teachers were getting the necessary training this week to ensure a smooth start to the school year.
“We came to this week, where we’re literally training over 1,200 teachers this week,” Mayberry said during the board’s Aug. 27 meeting. “Yesterday was our first really large group. They ultimately had 180 (teachers). Today, they taught over 400 teachers. Today was a bit of a long day for our trainers.”
One point of discussion regarding the grade book came over the 1-4 grading scale used by the district — as opposed to the traditional A through F letter grading scale — since the implementation of Standards Based Education.
“How are we making that transparent and understandable to students who are accountable for their grades, and the families supporting them?” asked board vice president Angela Griffin. “That’s the biggest hangup we’ve heard since implementing that policy. They just don’t understand how they get their grades. How are we making this clear to students and parents?”
Davis said the district’s communication department is working to inform parents and family about how students grades are calculated. Along with that, there’s information that’s been “embedded” in the individual schools’ newsletters as the school year approaches.
Ultimately, though, Davis said the most important factor was making sure teachers could clearly explain the standards based grading system.
“A majority of kids ask their teacher how their grade was calculated,” he said. “So, one of our critical questions we asked ourselves was, what tools do we need to give our teachers to thoughtfully explain how grades are calculated?”
Davis said in the training for the grade book system, which lasts anywhere between three and four hours, nearly a quarter of the training time is spent on explaining the standards-based grading system to the teachers — so they can effectively communicate that with students and parents.
“Being as clear as possible is going to be a big difference,” Griffin said. “I can’t tell you how many students/parents who said they asked a teacher, and the teacher said, ‘I don’t know.’”
Standards Based Education (SBE) gives students a grade of 1-4 to evaluate whether the students pass a set of 15 “power standards.” To learn more about the program, visit http://www.fwps.org/cur/sbe.