by Theo Lebryk
FCPS is making a push to try to keep grading policies in middle schools and high schools consistent throughout the county.
According to an email sent by Deputy Superintendent Steven A. Lockard to middle and high school teachers, the school system is working to “examine and make recommendations” for uniform policies about retakes, maximum and minimum grade weighting and minimum number of grades for a given grading period.
“As a school system, it is imperative that all of our students are afforded sound and equitable practices and therefore the time is now to engage in these complex conversations and begin to consider change,” wrote Lockard in the email.
Additionally, FCPS is looking into a policy which would eliminate zeros from the gradebook. The policy could help keep struggling students afloat by palliating the grade gap caused by a bombed or missing assignment.
“I think all students should be graded on the same standard,” said sophomore Erin Dubus. “If that means that a 50 percent is the new zero, then so be it.”
However, on the flip side of the argument, the students could also take advantage of the policy and skate by on the resulting grade inflation.
Math teacher William Horkan gives the example of a student that gets an 85 and 75 on his or her first two tests who then doesn’t need to come to class for the next two tests and still get a 65 while passing the class. The analogy applies to quarter grades as well: a student with a B average in the first two quarters could skip the second semester and still pass the class.
“Students deserve a chance to replace zeros, but if they do zero percent of the work, they don’t deserve a 50,” Horkan said. The new policy could be especially difficult to navigate with seniors whose only motivation is to pass the class.
“If you don’t do it [your work], you shouldn’t get partial credit,” said freshman Parker Leonard. “More students are not going to do their work, go get 50s all the time and still stay partially passing.”
“I don’t think it will help them [struggling students] because they don’t understand the material but they’ll keep dragging along in the class—keep being pushed along—even if they don’t understand,” said sophomore Youness Bella.
Lockard also stated that there is no timetable for any of these changes, but hopes that the school system can get appropriate feedback before the end of the school year. That way, any changes necessary could be implemented in the 2015-2016 school year.