DISD plan to ease grading standards angers teachersCourtesy of Moonbattery
Dallas public school students who flunk tests, blow off homework and miss assignment deadlines can make up the work without penalty, under new rules that have angered many teachers.
The new rules will be distributed when teachers return to their campuses next week. But many who have already seen the regulations say they are too lenient on slackers, and will come at the expense of kids who work hard.
For example, the new rules require teachers to accept late work and prevent them from penalizing students for missed deadlines. Homework grades that would drag down a student's overall average will be thrown out.
School officials said the new guidelines are needed to ensure that all district teachers operate under the same rules and to create a "fair system" for grading students.
"The purpose behind it is to ensure fair and credible evaluation of learning – from grade to grade and school to school," said Denise Collier, the district's chief academic officer.
Some teachers said the new rules offer kids too many loopholes.
"It's like we're sending the message to kids that deadlines don't matter, studying is optional, and no matter how little you do, you're still [going to] pass all your classes anyway," said Ray Cox, who teaches world languages at Franklin Middle School.
The intent may have been to create a uniform grading policy, but the result was to lower standards, said Dale Kaiser, president of the teachers' group NEA-Dallas.
The school board and superintendent "talk about elevating standards and holding high expectations for kids, but we're telling the kids that whether they do the work or not is irrelevant," he said.
The new guidelines were developed by district staff and did not require school board approval.
District records state that the changes are part of a switch to "effort-based" grading and are designed to give students multiple opportunities to demonstrate that they've mastered class material. Requiring teachers to contact parents instead of awarding zeros is designed to increase home-school communications, according to district materials presented recently to principals. Retests and deadline extensions are meant to motivate students to do better after initial failure.
Some of the rules are similar to those in place in nearby districts, but many of the district's new rules appear to be unique.
For example, teachers in Allen ISD can give zeros at their discretion. In Richardson and Fort Worth ISDs, teachers grade homework without regard to whether it will lower a student's overall class average. In Grand Prairie, students automatically incur substantial penalties for turning in late work.
Last school year, Dallas' board of trustees reaffirmed a policy that prevented teachers from giving students a grade lower than a 50 in any one grading period. The reason given was that students who fall below 50 have no hope or motivation to bring up their grades and just give up.
During the discussion, trustees asked administrators to develop standardized grading rules for elementary, middle and high school teachers.
Those rules were finalized this summer and have been sent to principals. Copies of the new rules were posted on The Dallas Morning News' DISD blog Wednesday.
Teacher reaction was swift and overwhelmingly negative.
One recent DISD graduate commented that he thought the new rules would give students the wrong impression of how businesses operate.
"Babying the rules so that [students] have almost unlimited chances to pass, that's unreal," said Joshua Perry, a 2007 graduate of Skyline High School. "In the real world, you don't get a whole lot of chances or other ways to make something up."
Key points in DISD’s new grading policy
•Homework grades should be given only when the grades will "raise a student's average, not lower it."
•Teachers must accept overdue assignments, and their principal will decide whether students are to be penalized for missing deadlines.
•Students who flunk tests can retake the exam and keep the higher grade.
•Teachers cannot give a zero on an assignment unless they call parents and make "efforts to assist students in completing the work."