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Federal Way school board finalizes changes to district grading system

Federal Way Public Schools - Courtesy Federal Way Public Schools
Federal Way Public Schools
— image credit: Courtesy Federal Way Public Schools

The Federal Way Public Schools (FWPS) board of directors voted unanimously to finalize the changes to the district’s grading system during its Dec. 10 meeting, changing from the “Power Law/Conditional Matrix” grading system, to one the district termed “averaging/averaging.” The changes will go into effect on Dec. 13.

“The board approved a change to the calculation of the grading policy, as it relates to the calculations of the assessment and assignment level and the determination of a priority standard score,” Superintendent Rob Neu began. “Tonight, we’re going to take the next step in recommendations (gathered from) further input, conversations, a work study, several meetings with students, and the opportunity to meet with staff over the last two weeks…What Mr. Mayberry is presenting is that average of the assessments into a priority standard, and then averaging of the priority standards into a final grade.”

Neu noted that with the change, students will be scored on a 1-4 scale at the assignment and assessment level.

“This is what’s confusing to people, is that a 1, 2, 3, 4 is not equivalent to an F, C, B, A. So basically, a 1 or 2 are not meeting standard. For instance, the average of assignments and assessments may accumulate to a 3.2 at the priority standard level, and then those 3.2s, 2.8s and 2.6s get averaged into a final grade,” Neu explained.

Neu called on Vince Blauser, executive director of secondary schools for FWPS, to outline the steps district officials are taking to ensure the mid-year grading change is painless as possible. Blauser said he had been in meetings with principals and other administrators earlier in the week to discuss how the transition should take place. According to Blauser, the transitioning expectations include:

• Grades being recalculated using the new method on Dec. 13, averaging both the assignment and priority standard level

• Grades will be recalculated from the beginning of “Marking Period 1” to the current date using the new calculations

• Sending a letter home to families communicating the grade comparisons from the old grading calculations and the new calculations

• A new “cut” score will be applied to the overall letter grade

• A communication plan for teachers, students and parents will go into effect immediately.

“As we look forward in this work, we understand there are other areas around grading that are worthy of further discussion,” Blauser said. “Superintendent Neu has asked for an advisory committee to be formed consisting of students, parents, teachers, and administrators to meet on a regular basis to examine considerations of some of the topics listed here.”

Blauser noted that all four comprehensive high schools in the district – Thomas Jefferson, Decatur, Federal Way and Todd Beamer – will host a forum at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 19 to talk about these new adjustments. Along with this, Blauser said there will be materials available on the district’s website (fwps.org) that will explain, in-depth, the changes being made to the grading system.

Neu cautioned that this change has the possibility to create even more stress as it begins to be implemented throughout the district.

“Not only are there going to be grade changes for the students, but there are particular places in the district where instruction is occurring, that these changes are going to wreak havoc,” he said. “It’s going to be some work getting people, teachers and the curriculum aligned to this suggestion I’m proposing tonight.”

For those interested in learning more, Neu penned an open letter to the FWPS community regarding the changes. That letter can be found at fwps.org.

 

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