School District Discusses Application of New Grading Method

We are all used to the traditional A-to-F grading scale that defined most of our time in school.  But while it seems like a tried and true method that could stand the test of time, groups like New England Secondary School Consortium (NESSC) argue that there may be a better way.

Touting what they describe as a Standards-Based Grading system, NESSC has been working for the last couple of years to implement this new grading system into our classrooms and recently held a meeting at Londonderry High School on November 8 to discuss their progress throughout New Hampshire, including parts of the Londonderry school district.

Led by NESSC representative Dan Blank, the presentation took place in front of both staff members of the school district and parents to students currently in the district in order to give them an accurate idea of what the program hopes to accomplish.

With researching starting back in 2010, the plan primary objective is to focus on the specifics of each student’s study habits, working to identify their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to each subject.  More specifically, they no longer want students to work through memorization of facts, instead utilizing three learn criteria labeled product, process and progress, or identifying what a student knows, how they can improve and how much they have improved over a set period.  In essence, a numerical scale would be used to judge each applicable learning method.

Blank explained that the NESSC feels that traditional, standardized testing is flawed because not only does that type of scoring not give parents an idea of where their child specifically stands against other students, but when a student fails, they feel that they are being punished for their mistakes, potentially discouraging them instead of promoting progress.

“We’re trying to shift our standards from just labeling kids and moving on”, Blank noted.

Blank and the NESSC were fully aware that their system has been called out for having several potential flaws, and were quick to address them, on top of giving handouts that delved into the specifics of the system’s updated report card and noting dozens of studies that either supported their system or that labeled standardized testing and ineffective.

For starters, some have argued that that this new system could cause students to become lazy, as this new system would be more lenient and allow for a “redo” policy for poor test scores.  However, Blank noted that a reassessment form would need to be signed by both the student and teacher, thus discouraging students from abusing the system and encouraging them to actually study harder.

There was also the concern for how this would meld with the college application process, as some schools may not be prepared to figure out how these new grading methods compare to their acceptance standards.  But on top of showing letters from Dartmouth College and the Community College System of New Hampshire that mentioned their support for the method, Blank explained that the college acceptance process focuses not only on grades, but on activities in and out of school and the overall character of the student, so such a concern really would not be a problem.

The new system is currently being used across New Hampshire school districts to varying degrees, as well as Londonderry grade schools, but there was no mention about implementing it any further in Londonderry as of yet.

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter