FPS moves to standards-based grading system

Addison Walton, Staff Writer

Farmington Public Schools is taking steps this year to implement a standards-based grading system, starting by creating a uniform grading scale and downsizing the categories in the grade book to class work and final exams.

The news was announced at the end of last year to teachers and the beginning of this year to students and parents. Along with concern for what this means for grading many were confused about what standards based grading is.

Simply put, standards-based grading lists standards/goals that a student needs to hit in a subject area, and according to a grading practices report posted on the district website,“separates academic progress and behaviors and reports them separately.”

While some changes have already begun, such as creating a district-wide grading scale and removing plusses and minuses from letters, other changes will be happening further down the road, such as removing penalties for late work and not counting behavior for grades. These changes and others have many students, teachers, and parents concerned that this will demotivate students from actually trying and make school easier, but according to Naomi Khalil, director of instructional equity that’s not the case.

“It’s not a question of making it easier but making it more accurate for your report card grade to reflect your academic achievement,” said Khalil.

Khalil believes there are advantages to changing the grading system.

“By measuring against a standard versus against all those variable we’re looking to measure your academic achievement,” said Khalil.

However, not all are convinced. Leanne Young, English teacher, wonders if this will system will be a disadvantage to students.

“I worry that if we reduce teaching to a set of standards,are we preparing students for the world?” said Young.

Young is also worried about students with special needs.

“I wonder how special needs will addressed in this system. For example, accommodating students with personal issues, those with learning disabilities. Where is the human part in such a concrete system?” she said.

Students are also less than pleased. Makhia Maxwell, 12, worries that without plusses and minuses students may not be motivated to push themselves.

“When I see that plus or minus it’s a signal for me to work harder or that I’m almost there. Without them students will be unmotivated,” Maxwell said.