Clintonville High School Principal Lance Bagstad presented an update on changes to the school’s grading system at the School Board meeting on Monday, April 14.
“We presented some changes a month ago,” began Bagstad. “Since then, we’ve sent out a link to the policy to parents via email. We also left phone messages with parents, listing contact information in case they had questions. We had one phone call from a parent requesting a copy of the policy.
“We have raised the bar by not having a ‘D’ grade in our policy,” explained Bagstad. “Students must achieve at 70 percent in a course in order to earn a passing grade. In the past couple of years the ‘D’ grade could be earned if a student earned 60 percent. We believed that 60 percent was too low for earning a course grade and eventually a high school diploma.
“The question we asked ourselves was, ‘Do we really want students graduating from high school after only demonstrating they had shown understanding of only 60 percent of the expected learning?’” commented Bagstad. “Although some may question having no ‘D’ grades, the percentage to earn a ‘C’ is actually lower than what used to be considered for a ‘D’ grade. A historical review of grading polices at the high school used to have a 77 percent as the lowest percentage for a ‘D’. However, those percents also used to include things like attendance, participation, extra credit, etc. Our current policy does not have these items included.
“Four students were retroactively given ‘G’ grades for the first semester,” continued Bagstad. “This grade counts for ½ credit and 1.0 grade point average. We had one parent come to us with a question. Feedback from kids was presented to the building committee. Some kids complained about homework coming back. Freshmen students complained about having to re-adjust to having homework again.
“A paper copy of the policy will be included with registration packets this fall,” said Bagstad. “Summative assessment will count for 85 percent of a student’s grade, while formative assessment will count for 15 percent of a student’s grade. Ungraded practice work will also be included in a 0 percent category.”
Concerned parent Donna Krueger was permitted to ask questions by the board.
“Can you please explain the 0 percent category?” she asked. “Also, I understand that students are complaining about homework; are any parents complaining about it?”
Bagstad said the 0 percent category will include mandatory assignments that are not graded. He said there have not been complaints from parents regarding homework.
“There is lots of confusion about the number of times the grading policy changed,” said Krueger. “There were four changes, and it seems the board was unaware of it.”
“Building policy often changes throughout the year,” explained Superintendent Tom O’Toole. “The grading system at the high school is a building policy. No numbered board policy was changed—that’s why it was never brought before the board.”
“Shouldn’t you be looking at that?” asked Krueger. “Should we have one administrator making these changes or a conglomerate of people doing it? Many kinks could have been ironed out ahead of time if there were more minds involved.”
“The building advisory committee discussed all these changes and they were shared with the board at the last meeting,” responded Bagstad. “It’s not just one person making decisions.”
“How do you feel it is working now?” asked Krueger.
“We have no more Fs than last year at this time,” said Bagstad. “This is a policy we had two years ago. The only difference is the homework part. We also have a different crop of kids, so comparing previous years is like comparing apples to oranges. A cultural shift needs to be made. Test results show real learning.”
“I’m not against that,” responded Krueger. “But you can’t give no homework and then have students fail a test because they didn’t do the ungraded homework.”
The board adjourned into closed session to discuss personnel items and negotiations strategy with teachers, administrators and support staff. After returning to open session, the board voted unanimously to hire Tami Bagstad as the new principal for the Rexford/Longfellow Elementary School, beginning July 1, for the 2014-15 school year.
O’Toole reported that the Head Start program will not be offering classes at Dellwood next year.
“They are going to in-home services for ages birth through three,” explained O’Toole. “So, we should think about whether or not we want to change the programming at Dellwood. We could consider moving the 4K students to Longfellow, and perhaps move the alternative school to Dellwood. The 4K started at Rexford/Longfellow about 10 years ago.”
“Is there any chance that (Head Start) will come back next year?” asked Dins.
“They are not under our jurisdiction,” responded O’Toole. “So I really can’t say what will happen next year.”
“I’d like to see the alternative school move to Dellwood,” said Board Member Judy Magee.
“There would be less busing for the younger kids,” added O’Toole and Board Member Ben Huber.
“Is (Dellwood) an appropriate building for the alternative students?” asked Board President Dirk Weber. “It is occupied by little people now, while the alternative school students are much bigger people.”
Building and Grounds Manager Steve Reinke said this would not be an issue, as the facilities are built for students of all ages.
O’Toole said he would further investigate options and report back to the board.
A $310,812 purchase to be made in July was approved by the board. This purchase will include Chromebook/iPads. A future Chromebook/iPad purchase in the amount of $168,816 was also approved. These purchases will support grades 4K-12, and will come from the Fund Balance.
“These devices are much less expensive than traditional computers. Technology will advance, but we believe we can get five to eight years out of these devices,” said O’Toole.
“There are not as many moving parts on these devices. A lot of the storage is cloud-based, rather than being saved on a hard drive,” added Bagstad. “If we wait for the latest technology, we’ll never buy anything.”
O’Toole also stated that internet usage would all go through the district’s servers, which will prevent students from visiting unapproved websites.
“We will have an option for students in grades 7-12 to have individual Chromebooks. They will be able to take these home with them daily,” said O’Toole. “Grades 3-6 will have shared Chromebook carts and iPad carts. Grades K-2 will have one cart per grade level in addition to the iPads that are already available to them.”