Students stage sit-in following Lexington One's grading changes - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Students stage sit-in following Lexington One's recent grading changes

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  • New grading at Lexington One concerns parents

    New grading at Lexington One concerns parents

    Friday, November 1 2013 11:43 AM EDT2013-11-01 15:43:17 GMT
    There is growing concern among parents with students in Lexington School District One over a brand new grading scale that they believe is an unfair assessment of students' achievement level.The two parentsMore >>
    There is growing concern among parents with students in Lexington School District One over a brand new grading scale that they believe is an unfair assessment of students' achievement level.More >>

Students at River Bluff High School staged a sit-in Friday morning to protest Lexington One School District's most recent grading policy changes.

The students were unhappy with tweaks the district made in response to outrage over the district-wide adoption of the controversial "Grading for Learning" assessment policy.

Pictures from inside the school show students sitting and standing in a large group in what appears to be a common area.

Students said after the start of the school day they refused to go to class and chanted "change it back!" The sit-in lasted approximately five minutes and concluded when the school's principal, Dr. Luke Clamp, spoke on a megaphone.

A student who attended the protest said Clamp applauded the movement "of standing up for what we think is fair for the students and sent us on to class after telling us to do whatever we can to get our old grading policy back if that's what us students really want."

"Hopefully Lexington One will see that only parents wanted the grading system changed and most all Lexington One students would like the old policy back," said junior Kayla Deaver. "We were protesting about the most recent changes made October 30. As you may know River Bluff has a different schedule than other schools in the district. This meaning River Bluff students have up to 8 classes to keep up with rather than 4 like other schools in Lexington District One."

A statement from the district confirms the protest, but downplayed the significance of the event.

"From time to time, certain unfounded rumors become urban legends or myths," wrote spokesperson Mary Beth Hill. "Told as fact and passed from person to person, stories like this often have great detail and sound real. However, they are, in fact, usually based on a mixture of truth and fantasy and perpetuated by some general panic or obsessive interest."

"Right now, we are facing an urban myth that states that there was a raucous student and parent sit in at River Bluff High School this morning."

"There was not."

"The students did stage about a four-minute long protest this morning to express their dissatisfaction with recent changes in the district's grading practices. Administrators and teachers were present."

"The protest was calm, quiet and completely orderly."

"There were, as always, parents at the school this morning checking tardy students in, etc. and about 80 business leaders arriving at school to attend a completely unrelated career showcase for 10th-graders. However, no adults participated," concluded Hill.

Parents, students and teachers recently began speaking out against the district's brand new grading scale titled "Grading for Learning."

According to the district, "Grading for Learning" is an approach where the focus of grading should be mastering the material, not behavior or work habits or extra credit.

Under the original policy, grades are dependent on just a few major exams during each 9-week period.

Here's an excerpt from the policy as it was initially written: "Grades cannot be influenced by such things as whether or not the student did her homework, turned in assignments on time or demonstrated good behavior."

Students were allowed to re-take tests multiple times, and homework was not graded. There were quizzes, practice labs, first drafts, but they were also not graded.

The district said teachers could use that "practice" to give individualized feedback to students and to prepare them for the tests.

After hundreds attended an October 15 school board meeting to discuss the new policy, school officials made some changes for the second nine weeks.

Quizzes, initial drafts, homework, labs and practice assignments will now account for 15 percent of the student's total grade. The "end performance" assessments, which include tests, final drafts, projects, major labs and research papers will account for 85 percent of the student's grade.

Those changes were the focus of Friday's protest at River Bluff High School. Students preferred the initial policy that their grades would be based on a few end performance assessments and that other "formative" assessments were not graded.

The district also said it will drop each student's lowest major exam grade for the first nine weeks.

"We realize that our students have had to learn a new way of thinking about learning and grading," stated Superintendent Karen C. Woodward in an October 30 letter to parents. "This transition presented challenges for not only our students but also for our teachers, administrators and district office staff. With this in mind and in response to concerns from parents, the student's lowest summative grade for the first nine weeks has been dropped in classes using the new grading initiative."

"We appreciate the hard work of our teachers, students, administrators and parents and believe that refining the implementation process as outlined above will help us all make this shift," concluded Woodward. "We want our students to succeed and will continue to seek input, communicate more frequently and make modifications, as we refine the learning process for our students."

The district had a pilot program last year and this year it's being fully implemented in all the middle schools and several high schools.

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