Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

February 1, 2012

Lowndes' grading guide stirs controversy

County schools implement new grading system

VALDOSTA — The Lowndes County school system has implemented a new guide to grading for students in the third through eighth grades that has caused alarm among parents in the community.

Among other changes, no "zeros" are allowed to be given as grades and students are to be allowed to retest until they receive a passing grade.

According to Dr. Troy Davis, Assistant Superintendent of Lowndes County Schools, the grading guide was the culmination of work completed by each school.

“Each principal worked with his or her faculty to evaluate current practices and determine the best practices for assessing and evaluating student progress,” said Davis.

The grading guide, which was approved by the Lowndes County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Steve Smith, is effective immediately as finalized and issued. The grading guide appears to throw accountability to the wind.

“All students will be given the opportunity to learn and redo assignments, especially if a student makes a failing grade,” the guide states.

The guide instructs teachers not to be satisfied with giving grades that are below the student’s potential. Essentially, even though a child has the potential to make an A, but doesn’t do the work and makes an F, that F should not count because the child is ostensibly smart enough to make the A.

“Assessment and evaluation serve as the process for measuring student progress and determining the needed remediation and enrichment for each child,” said Davis. “The grading guide and scale are the catalysts and precursors for making these decisions.”

Not only will the teacher be required to re-teach and re-test a student, the highest grade the child earns will be the recorded grade.

“The student will receive the higher grade attained, not an average of the two assessments or assignments,” the guide states.

The grading guide also states that zeros are no longer acceptable. Not for the student to make, but for the teacher to give.

“Zeros are unacceptable. Teachers will give students an "I" (Incomplete) for work not turned in and are to insist that the assignments are completed. Zeros will not be used,” the guides states.

Rather than the student's fault, Davis feels that giving a zero is the fault of the teacher.

“Assigning a grade of zero is equivalent to giving up on a child,” said Davis. “The Lowndes County School System and its teachers refuse to give up on a child.”

The guide prompts teachers to question traditional grading methods and to not be concerned with what a child earns.

“In education, the goal is to truly learn the material rather than simply earn a grade,” said Davis.

Although the new guide may give the appearance of being beneficial for those students who don’t do their work and are failing, rather than awarding those who do the work on time, Davis stands behind the grading guide as beneficial for all students of Lowndes County.

“As educators and parents, we are very concerned with what students learn in addition to how they are assessed and evaluated,” said Davis. “Mastery, learning, knowledge retention and application are benchmarks to student success.”

The new teacher guide to grading can be viewed on the Lowndes County Schools website at www.lowndes.k12.ga.us.

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