Federal Way schools battle opposition to new grade system

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by ELISA HAHN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ElisaHahnK5

KING5.com

Posted on November 29, 2011 at 7:10 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 30 at 9:04 AM

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Outside Decatur High School Tuesday morning, students and parents protested Federal Way School District’s new grading system.
 
Homework, participation, extra credit no longer factor into a grade.
 
"If I proved in my homework that I knew how to do the problems, I could save my grade,” said Katy Stanfield, a junior at Decatur. “Now I don't have that. They don't have homework. Class work doesn't count, it's all based on the test."
 
This year, Federal Way Schools adopted a standard-based grading system. Grades are now based on academic behaviors only. The teachers across the district came together to decide basic goals, or power standards, that kids need to meet for each class.
 
"It says to our families to our students, 'Here's the expectations, and we're going to report to you where your child is in respect to those expectations,'” said Joshua Garcia, Assistant Superintendent of Federal Way Schools. “So we're going to have an honest conversation about here is where your child is, and here is where they need to improve.”
 
But parents, students, and even teachers admit to some confusion over the new system. Rumors and misinformation are running amok. Some have heard there are no grades, or that its all based on test scores. Both are not true.
 
The district admits there is an emphasis on test scores, but there is also plenty of room for retakes.
 
"The policy affords students to retake assessments at any time, so if a family wants to get an 'A,' they have a right to get an 'A,' and they know exactly what they want to do to get that 'A,'" said Garcia.
 
Ramona Fitzgerald has a junior and senior at Decatur. She said forcing them to learn a new system so late is unfair.
 
"To add this grading system on them right at the end of their schooling is causing a lot of stress on them,” said Fitzgerald. “It's added stress that they really don't need.”
 
Some Federal Way parents plan on taking their protest to the next school board meeting.
 
Puyallup, Sumner, Kent, and Tacoma districts are also introducing standards-based education in some of their schools.

Related link:

Info on standard based grading from the Federal Way School District

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