Opinion

Q&A with Mr. Federal Way: How does the school grading system work?

Got a question for Mr. Federal Way? Email mrfederalway@federalwaymirror.com. - Federal Way Mirror
Got a question for Mr. Federal Way? Email mrfederalway@federalwaymirror.com.
— image credit: Federal Way Mirror

Q: Mr. Federal Way, you have kids in Federal Way Public Schools. Do you have any idea how to read the standard-based education grading system?

A: Quick answer is that Mr. Federal Way has no idea how the district’s grading system works.

It sure would be a lot easier if Mr. Federal Way could go to the district’s website and see the actual “scores” on homework assignments, quizzes and tests. Like the “good old days.”

Mr. Federal Way wants to see that Mr. Federal Way’s kid got 91 out of 100 on a chapter test in chemistry, or 22 out of 25 on algebra homework. Mr. Federal Way doesn’t want to try and wade through a lot of big words in an attempt to see this.

Here’s an example of one of the 12 grading categories in Mr. Federal Way’s kid’s French class: “Language Comparisons: Identify cultural characteristics of language such as formalities, levels of politeness, informal and formal language.”

Excusez-moi? Mr. Federal Way doesn’t comprehendo.

The district is hosting numerous forums at middle schools for parents to learn more about the new grade book and how grades are calculated. Seems like a lot of extra work to explain something that shouldn’t be that hard to explain. Mr. Federal Way shouldn’t have to go back to school just to understand how grades are distributed, right?

Mr. Federal Way also believes the standards-based education grading system is equally hard to understand for the great teachers in the district. Mr. Federal Way assumes that calculating grades is a lot more time-consuming for teachers than it was five years ago.

Grades should be similar to statistics in sports. In baseball, it’s pretty easy to look up a hitter’s stats to see if they are having a good or bad season. That’s how Major Leaguers get paid. A player who hits .300 with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs makes a lot more money than somebody who hits .250 with 50 RBIs. The results are right in front of you, in black and white. Absolutely no guesswork needed.

If it’s not broke, why is the Federal Way School District attempting to “fix” it?

Q: Mr. Federal Way, what is the point of having an actual “landline” at your house? Is there anyone under the age of 70 who doesn’t do all of their communicating with a cellphone?

A: The only reason that Mr. Federal Way can think of for having a landline is because you like receiving a call from a radio station the second you sit down for a family dinner.

The landline is also a great tool during the election season. Mr. Federal Way doesn’t miss those calls that start with a robot voice regarding a city council candidate. Those calls always ended with Mr. Federal Way immediately hanging up the phone.

It still amazes Mr. Federal Way that there are people out there who pay for a landline.

The landline seems to be going the way of the yellow pages and the hand-written letter.

Mr. Federal Way can understand the yellow pages becoming extinct. Is there a worse feeling than coming home from work and seeing that plastic bag with the phone book inside of it? Mr. Federal Way compares it to a dog making its way onto the porch and taking a big poop on the “welcome” mat.

It’s basically the same thing. When Mr. Federal Way sees the yellow pages, Mr. Federal Way utters a few words not fit for children’s ears, grabs the plastic bag and immediately throws it in the recycle bin.

Mr. Federal Way would have the same reaction if a pile of dog turds was deposited on the front porch. But, instead of heading to the recycle bin, Mr. Federal Way would utter those same four-letter words, grab a shovel and deposit the excrement into the bushes.

It’s kind of sad to see the hand-written letter go the way of the dinosaur. Currently, the only thing that sits in the mailbox are bills, and Mr. Federal Way becomes depressed when heading out to get the mail.

However, there is that rare occasion when, situated in the middle of all those bills, there is a letter from Mr. Federal Way’s grandparents or a hand-written “thank you” note.

Those are little things in life that bring joy to the otherwise monotonous routine of picking up the mail.

Q: Mr. Federal Way, I got my ballot in the mail last week and was just wondering who you will be voting for in the Nov. 5 general election?

A: None of your business.

 

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