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Old 08-18-2008, 05:38 AM   #1
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Drysdale's Avatar
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 20,628
Default Texas School gets it wrong

Just to be fair & balanced... Of course Dallas is something of a liberal pesthole these days, and it shows. If you ever want to be entertained, go get ahold of the video from the Dallas city council meetings... Makes me glad I'm from Fort Worth. (Yes, there's a pretty big difference between Ft Worth and Dallas, even though we're conjoined)
Dallas ISD defends changes in grading policy

12:05 PM CDT on Saturday, August 16, 2008

By KENT FISCHER / The Dallas Morning News

Dallas school superintendent Michael Hinojosa and two trustees defended new classroom grading rules Friday, and urged teachers and parents to learn more about the requirements before dismissing them as misguided.
Also Online

Document: DISD letter

Document: New DISD grading policy

Blog: Dallas ISD

DISD plan to ease grading standards angers teachers

Teachers have derided the new rules as being too lenient on lazy students by requiring teachers to accept late work, give retests to students who fail and force teachers to drop homework grades that would drag down a student's class average.

But Dr. Hinojosa asked teachers and parents to consider that in the long run the rules will help more students succeed.

"We want to make sure that students are mastering the content [of their classes] and not just failing busy work," he said.

"We want students to get it right, and we want to make sure that they do get it right."

If that means teachers will be required to extend an assignment deadline, or let students retake exams, so be it, he said.

Trustee Jerome Garza also saw much in the new protocols to like.

He liked the consistency of having the same rules apply to every teacher and every student districtwide. That should help parents predict what to expect from teachers and provide some stability for children who change schools midyear. Mr. Garza also praised the rules for requiring teachers to take preventive steps, like conferring with parents, before giving students little or no credit for missed assignments.

"If we've got somebody who is beginning to fail, we've got to bring parents in before it is too late," he said.

Trustee Nancy Bingham, a former teacher, said she does not agree with the requirement that teachers accept late work with no power to impose a penalty, but she does think that students sometimes need "a safety net" that some teachers are unwilling to provide.

While she said she found most of the new rules "reasonable" she didn't think they would have much impact on truly lazy students or those who openly defy their teachers.

"If the kid is hell-bent on failing, they're going to fail anyway," she said. "But some kids need a cushion, or a safety net."

Dr. Hinojosa said the new rules are aimed, in part, at helping curb the district's alarming ninth-grade failure rate. Each year, roughly 20 percent of the district's high school freshmen fail to advance to the 10th grade. Many eventually drop out.

Dr. Hinojosa cited new research that determined ninth-graders who are flunking two or more classes in their first six weeks of high school are almost doomed to become dropouts.

"Our mission is not to fail kids," he said. "Our mission is to make sure they get it, and we believe that effort creates ability."

Teachers, though, argue that the high school failure rate has less to do with the first six weeks of ninth grade than it does with most DISD freshmen struggling to read. In 2007, 80 percent of them scored below the 40th percentile in reading on the Iowa Test of Educational Development. Yet the promotion rate out of eighth grade for that class was 98 percent.

Some teachers and parents have noted that even if the new rules lead to 100 percent passing rates on class work, students will still have to pass Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills exams to graduate.

Aimee Bolender, head of the Alliance/AFT teachers' organization, said most teachers will not support the new grading protocols.

"There is a constant shift of accountability away from the students and onto the teachers," she said.

The new rules have been sent to principals, who will present them to teachers next week.

They're the latest step in DISD's effort to standardize instruction across the district. Last school year, the trustees reaffirmed a policy that prevented teachers from giving students a grade lower than a 50 for 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.

One student thought that some students would exploit the rules knowing that doing so would come with light or no penalties.

"I'll be interested to see how teachers advertise these rules – I'm sure they won't be promoting them," said Skyline High School senior Aileen Mokuria. "This seems to teach procrastination."

Ms. Mokuria added that she found the requirement for teachers to accept late work especially odd. She recently volunteered at Skyline to mentor incoming freshmen about the ins and outs of high school.

"One of the things I told them was that it was very important to turn in your work on time," she said.

She added that students are too passive about their education.

"Students need to take the initiative and go to the teacher and ask for help," she said. "Let it come down to the student-teacher relationship."
AT A GLANCE: Grading changes

•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."

•High school teachers who fail more than 20 percent of their students will need to develop a professional improvement plan and will be monitored by their principals. For middle school the rate is 15 percent; for elementary it's 10 percent.
"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
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Drysdale is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-18-2008, 06:24 AM   #2
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> Students who flunk tests can retake the exam and keep the higher grade.

Yeah, some of the grade schools in the nearby towns do this, and my wife has been outraged by it. Oh well, it's still a couple of years before our kids go off to school. And I'm not sure it's really a bad thing for kids to learn that many school adminstrators are morons - it was one of the first lessons I learned as a kid, and it seems to have served me in good stead.
Fafner Wabbitslayer, Retired Shaman of Reviction, Erollisi Marr/Morell Thule
"This story shall the good man teach his son;...
From this day to the ending of the world,"
-- William Shakespeare, Henvy V, Act 4, Scene 3
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Old 08-18-2008, 08:04 AM   #3
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Posts: 910
They should just simply let the kids stay home and the teachers stay home, email the teachers a list of students for each class, and they email back grades to the principal who is at home. He then emails the compiled grades to the administration office people whom are also at home, so they can mail the completed report cards to the parents. No school buildings needed, and everyone passes!!
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