Baltimore County updates grading policy
March 1, 2016
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June 9, 2015 was the first time in eighteen years that Baltimore County’s grading policy was revised by the Board of Education, the central office, and other focus groups to meet the changing demands of society and to make students globally competitive graduates.
The new policy promotes equity. The Board aims to provide a “fair process for evaluating student progress.” Instead of having unnecessary grades, grades will be based on course expectations to reflect each student’s level of knowledge. And by standardizing expectations across schools, the Board aims to help kids from transient families, who have to switch from school to school.
“We’re really looking to make sure grades have a consistent meaning throughout the school district. Grades need to be based off of grade level and course expectations,” said STAT teacher, Maggie Cummins.
Homework will still improve grades, just not directly. If you always complete your homework, but the student sitting next to you copies the homework every night, then where is the reward in getting a completion grade?
Often times, students copy or cheat for a homework grade that will offer a small boost. Instead of giving points for this, knowledge will now be shown by a “body of evidence” – which reflects time spent studying and preparing, and yes, doing homework, at home.
“In this policy we’re making sure that grades only communicate how well you’re doing on those standards, unlike before when we were also grading behaviors,” said Cummins.
Through the new system, grades will provide “meaningful feedback” for students and parents to accurately reflect how much students are learning. This will give students the opportunity to reflect on where they are struggling, and will motivate them to put in work to improve in those areas.
Grades will be solely knowledge based, and will not be affected by participation or class behavior. This means good grades will not be given for sitting quietly, and points will not be lost for chewing gum. Behaviors don’t show what students know, and so they shouldn’t be the difference between an A or a B.
Under this new policy, grades will be records of each student’s performance in order to help students excel in school now and in college later.