Orange County Orange County School Board tackles new grading system

- It was a small crowd, but big information.   Even though last year seemed painful for many as schools, teachers, students, and parents adjusted to taking the new state issued standardized FSA's time to buckle up again.

The message at Thursday's Orange County School Board Meeting:  we are in another year of major transition.  A new grading system was just released by the state January 6th BASED on that new FSA.

Brandon McKelvey, the district's  Assoc. Supt. Research, Accountability, and Grades says, "Even though it has some of the same we have some of the same symbols as the old grading really isn't comparable in a lot of ways, particularly for the 14-15 school year where we don't have a learning gains calculation which is one of the core two pieces of our school grades."

Overall grades for schools and individual grades in certain classes.  And in the 15-16 school year when learning gains will be calculated?   McKelvey explains, "A student is actually going to have to grow more in a year to qualify for a learning gain."

Translation?:  We will likely see lower grades. School Board Chair Bill Sublette wanted to make sure parents understand what the new grades mean and that those new meanings come from the state...not the school district.

School Board Member Christine Moore said at tonight's meeting:  " It's hard to work on or with a system few of us believe in and that's what I believe many of us are laboring to do."     

And they were working hard, basically trying to find a way to almost compensate for what board members see as an inaccurate new grading system. They're worried about student morale, teacher morale, students' grades, merit pay, and that's not all."

Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said tonight the board is working on a way to get a legislative change to the definition of a learning gain. All attempts at righting a system they see as flawed.  School Board Member Linda Kobert says, "We need an accountability system.  We need to know if our students are learning and doing a good job, but this is no longer it."

The School board will try to educate parents at their monthly parent academies.  You can also find Thursday's presentation on the district's website.

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