School district's yearlong grading trial discontinued

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comMarch 7, 2014 

A trial program that changed the way students' grades were computed at three Beaufort County public schools has flunked out at two of the schools after only one semester

The program attempted to make grades better reflect students' grasp of all subjects over a year, not just their performance in each nine-week quarter. But it was dropped by Beaufort Middle School and Whale Branch Early College High School after the end of the first semester in January .

"The problem was that the teacher was saying, 'I think your grade should be X, but the grade book isn't showing X,' and we couldn't figure out why," Beaufort County School District instructional services officer Dereck Rhoads said.

If it was working, teachers should have seen students' grades improve over time, but that was not always the case, he said.

"Some students' grades were improving, as we had expected, ... but enough were not that we felt it was not assisting teachers in evaluating students," Rhoads said.

Okatie Elementary School will continue in the trial for the rest of the year, principal Jamie Pinckney said. Students there are showing progress under the program, she said.

Typically, district students receive a grade at the end of each quarter and start fresh at the beginning of the next. At the end of the year, the four grades are averaged together for a final grade.

Students in the trial received a snapshot of their grade at the quarter break. That grade continued in the next quarter. The final grade was to be based on a year's worth of work rather than the average of four quarters.

Teachers at Beaufort Middle and Whale Branch High have recalculated student grades using a traditional method, Rhoads said. Attempts to reach the principals of those schools were unsuccessful.

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

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