Last fall, Lexington’s Bryan Station High School principal James McMillin got permission to do away with extra credit in determining course grades. He wanted grades to be a more accurate reflection of what students know.
Continuing that effort, McMillin asked the Fayette County school board if he can eliminate D’s from the school’s grading scale and change the grading scale from one based on percentages to one based on points. The board will vote on his proposal July 24 at its regular monthly meeting. Members said Monday that they liked the initiatives.
The 2016-17 grading scale was traditional in that 90 to 100 percent was an A, 80 to 89 a B and so on. Under the proposed new grading scale for 2017-18, the numbers 0 through 4 would be given, with 4 being an A for exemplary work, 3 a B for proficient work, and 2 a C for a developing knowledge of a subject. A zero would be given for no attempt, and 0.1 would be an F for an unsuccessful effort.
McMillin doesn’t want students to be rewarded with a D passing grade for giving minimal effort.
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“If we allow students to just reach that and be OK with it,” then school officials are allowing students to stay at the novice level, he said.
Many parents were consulted about the changes at the high school, which for years had challenges with academic achievement, he said.
At Bryan Station in 2017-18, some grading rules will be similar to the previous year: Participation and following class rules are not part of a grade. Academic points are not deducted for late work. Extra credit and bonus points are not awarded to academic grades. Parents will be notified when students cheat, but instead of earning a zero, they will get a 0.1 for unsuccessful and will have to redo the work. Attendance and homework, called “practice” at Bryan Station, aren’t part of the academic grade.
“Grades should tell us what a student knows, understands and is able to do. That’s it,” McMillin said.
Turning in assignments on time and turning in homework, or “practice work,” won’t be counted in a grade, but those actions will be noted on report cards and transcripts. Double the number of progress reports will be sent home.
Bryan Station started implementing the policies as part of the new standards-based grading in the 2016-17 school year.
McMillin said there will be new safety nets built in for students to avoid failure. Students will be able to get extra help during a “flex period” built into the school day. All juniors will take a prep course for the ACT. Bryan Station will be an academy school, meaning students will enter medical, information technology, business leadership, and engineering and robotics academies, where academic courses will help students prepare for careers. Teacher lesson plans and class materials will all be online and available to parents and students.
He said he didn’t anticipate making other major grading changes for the next few years.
Board member Ray Daniels said after the meeting that he liked the proposal as long as parents could see the previous grading scale on reports so they could better interpret the new one.
“I want to compliment you on your work,” board chairwoman Melissa Bacon told McMillin. “I know you have spent countless hours putting that 10,000-piece puzzle together. But you are setting the template for the entire district. We can take what you all have done and mirror that for other high schools.”