The Fremont Public Schools Board of Education voted to implement new grading systems for both its elementary schools and high school during Monday night’s board monthly board meeting.
The elementary school will be officially implementing a “standards-based” grading system that has been in place as pilot program since 2015. It uses a scale of 1-4 to assess how deeply a student understands course material. And the high school will be moving to a “10-point system,” where each letter grade represents a 10-point span, and a failing grade is below a 60.
The new elementary school system gives a “standard indicator number, one through four, on a very general report card for the subjects that we’re teaching, and then complement that with some additional information for parents so they know what that means,” said Diane Stevens, principal of Washington Elementary School.
The new grading system will be “systematic and uniform” across grade levels, ensuring that parents see the same thing on all report cards regardless of grade.
Under the new system, a score of a three “meets grade level standards” and is considered students’ target score. A score of a four means that they “extend application of grade level standards,” and in some cases is unachievable. A skill such as letter or number identification, for instance, would not have a level four, because there is “no further application of that skill,” according to material provided at the meeting.
A two would mean that the student is “progressing toward grade level standards” and a one means they are “below grade level standards.”
The elementary school’s new grading system has been in development since the pilot program started in 2014, when the district started a committee to investigate what the ideal report card would look like. In 2015, they implemented a pilot version of their idea and refined it over the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school year.
The high school’s grading system breaks each letter grade down according to a 10-point scale. An A would be any grade between a 90 and 100, for instance, with an A+ classified as a 98 to 100, an A classified as a 93 to 97 and an A- classified as a 90 to 92. Under the new system, a failing grade would be below a 60, as opposed to the current system which qualifies failing as below a 70.
That could allow for additional rigor in the classroom without penalizing children.
Part of the reason for the change was that most other Class A schools across the state use the same system. The previous system, which organized the letter grade cutoffs differently (an A could only be scored above a 93, for instance) put Fremont High School kids at a disadvantage with their GPA when compared to other schools, especially when competing for scholarships, educators said at the meeting.
Also at Monday’s board meeting:
*The board voted to include an “optional device maintenance program” in its student fee policy, where families can pay a fee to cover potential damages to computers instead of being on the hook for costs of damages. The policy is still being developed, and was voted in as “placeholder language” to allow the district to build a policy around its upcoming influx of computers for grades seven through 12.
*The board approved a donation from Mike Arps and Arps Red-E-Mix of concrete valued at $15,600 for areas around the tennis court building and track storage building. It also approved a donation from Tom Sawyer of Sawyer Construction for labor to “remove all existing concrete slabs and asphalt from areas surrounding the tennis and track storage building.” And it approved a donation valued at $3,380 from Les Shallberg of Fremont Electric to install a new underground volt circuit as part of the same project at the tennis and track storage building.