Teachers test modified grading system

Anna Malesis, Editor-in-chief

This semester, a group of teachers will begin a trial run of a modified grading system alongside their normal gradebooks. For each class, students would receive a letter grade based on their academic demonstrated skills and knowledge, as well several other grades that reflect non-academic attributes, such as respectfulness, effort, and homework.
“The goal is to try to separate non-academic components from academic components,” math teacher Thomas Kennedy said. “I already do that in my calculus class—it’s only tests and quizzes that I grade.”
While colleges will be able to view all of the grades for each class, the academic grade, which would not include practice and daily homework, would be the only one factored into a student’s GPA.
“A lot of people who work harder and rely on things like homework points to raise their grades would be unhappy with it, but people who don’t do their homework frequently might benefit from this because their academic grades would go up, and actually reflect their knowledge,” Kennedy said.
However, a lower GPA with higher non-academic grades may not be a bad thing for students, either.
“What colleges and employers care about is everything that makes you a person, because a GPA has almost no predictive ability for how well you’ll do over four years at the university, but a lot of other things do,” French teacher Holly Deatherage-Larsen said. “So having that separate category that says this person does not persist, and does not do work, is a good indicator for colleges and for employers to say this person is very smart, but they don’t work well with others and they don’t get things done.”
In addition to providing more accurate information to colleges and employers, teachers participating in the pilot see another positive effect.
“Part of the reason for doing it is just to think about the kind of homework that teachers ask students to do and whether that’s valuable,” Deatherage-Larsen said. “From the teacher perspective, part of looking at homework grades separately is figuring out if homework directly impacts how students do on assessments. And if it doesn’t we should change it, and if it does then it should help them.”
At this point, though, the trial run won’t have any impact, and there is no guarantee that this system will be implemented in future years.
“Students who’d potentially be impacted in the future are probably not actually at Liberty right now because it will be at least a three-year process before anything happens, and it kind of fits into the larger scheme of deciding whether what we are doing as a school and as a district is working for students,” Deatherage-Larsen said.