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Grading system: Superintendent says 'modifications are needed'

Superintendent Rob Neu - File photo
Superintendent Rob Neu
— image credit: File photo

Mirror staff reports:

A letter from Superintendent Rob Neu indicates that Federal Way Public Schools could change its controversial grading system.

Posted on the school district's website Wednesday, the letter also encourages parents, staff and students to participate in an online survey about the grading system.

"I have been working through a process of developing a recommendation for the school board on the standards-based grading system for the board to consider at the Nov. 26 board meeting," Neu wrote. "We have been working with students, parents and staff to gather input on the current grading system. Our initial review indicates modifications are needed."

Results of the survey will be shared at the Nov. 26 meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall council chambers, 33325 8th Ave. S.

The initial motivation for replacing the traditional grading system with standards-based grading (SBG) was to improve the district’s graduation rate, which currently hovers just above 70 percent. SBG went into effect in fall 2011, and sparked a public debate over its strengths and shortcomings.

Parents and students have criticized the system's "power law" equation, and say it unfairly penalizes students when calculating grades.

In addition, teachers have had a difficult time explaining the grading system to parents and students who don't understand it.

According to the district, SBG allows for a more precise level of learning by requiring students to meet a number of "power standards." The system also replaces letter grades with a 1-through-4 scale.

Public forums

The district is hosting forums at Federal Way middle schools for parents to learn more about the new grade book and how grades are calculated.

Upcoming forums:

• Kilo Middle School: 6 p.m. Nov. 20

• Lakota Middle School: 6 p.m. Nov. 21

• Sacajawea Middle School: 6 p.m. Nov. 25

• Educational Service Center, 33330 8th Ave. S.: 5 p.m. Dec. 3. The school board will host a study session.

 

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