Federal Way schools need new grading system

As the 2017-2018 school year is about to begin are parents aware of the immediate urgency to upgrade our FW school district’s grading system in what I believe results in real world negative effects on the ability of our sons and daughters to compete for entry into universities and for scholarships?

I tried to change the board’s minds and the superintendent’s mind noting that the district’s flawed grading system could be changed today with little to no training, but I was unsuccessful. I advocated a plus/minus grading system for final grades (e.g. B+) over the current grading system of only A,B,C,F grades; coupled with a 10th-point grading system for grading lower tier standards (e.g. 2.5) rather than scores of only 1,2,3,4.

If you agree with me then please contact your school board member and demand and continue to demand that they change the grading system now!

Specifically, we parents need to know:

1. How does the district’s grading system support the best interests of our students? How is it superior to a plus/minus grading system and 10th-point precision lower tier grading model, e.g. 2.1 2.2, 3.9, etc. For example, letter grade points: A — 3.6; B+ — 3.3; B — 3; B- — 2.6; C+ — 2.3; C — 2; C- — 1.6; F — 1.

2. How does the district’s grading system motivate students to strive to reach a next higher grade when the next higher grade is unachievable and keep scholars from being demoralized because that next higher grade is unachievable as opposed to a plus/minus 10th-point system where the next grade level is more readily achievable?

For Example:

A) District grading system: Near end semester grade average = 3.3 (B); and, 3.5 (A) is not achievable because not enough new lower-tier grades are left to reach 3.5: therefore, grade = B = GPA 3.0 – i.e. no motivation to achieve the next level grade!

B) Plus/Minus:Tenth Point Grading System: Near end semester grade average = 3.25; and, next grade level 3.3 is achievable because fewer new lower-tier grades are needed to reach the next grade level therefore the final grade could be B+ = GPA 3.3 rather than the district grade B = 3.0 – i.e. the student remains motivated to achieve.

3. How does the district’s grading system accurately represent the grade differences between student performances?

A) Why does the higher achieving student receive the same grade as the lower achieving student? E.g. a 3.44 grade and a 3.0 grade both receive B=3.0?

B) Why shouldn’t a higher achieving student receive a higher grade and associated higher GPA to acknowledge that higher achievement? E.g. 3.44 = B+ rather that a B.

4.How does the district’s grading system relieve teachers from the ethical dilemma of having to over inflate or deflate a grade because the spread between grades is too large? e.g. a score of 3.4 and a score of 3.0 both receive a B.

5. How does the district’s grading system support our students who are competing for entry into *universities and for scholarships by awarding our FW scholars a lower GPA for the same quality of work of other students in different states and districts that use the plus/minus system? E.g. both student averages are 3.3, but the FW student gets a B, i.e. 3.0 GPA and the other student receives a B+ i.e. a 3.3 GPA.

My research indicates because universities receive thousands of applications they screen GPA, grades and tests for first-round admittance.

Solution: Immediately implement the following starting in 2017: 1) Re-institute a plus/minus grading system and, 2) give teachers the authority to grade lower tier standards with the precision of .1 (point one) increments.

As parents we must communicate to the board that we want our children to be able to compete on a level playing field for entry into universities and for scholarships; and, we parents cannot allow our sons and daughters to bear the negative impact of a flawed grading system; nor can we parents accept school board change processes that are so slow as to be practically non-responsive to the immediate needs of our scholars! The school district needs to implement immediately the proven plus/minus grading system that is supportive of our sons and daughters today. Right now.

Frank Comito, Federal Way


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