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As STAAR Testing Looms, DISD Trustees to Begin Discussing Changes to Grading Policy

From a briefing prepared for the DISD board of trustees for Thursday's meeting
From a briefing prepared for the DISD board of trustees for Thursday's meeting

After the jump are two docs parents of kiddos in the Dallas Independent School District might want to look at sooner than later -- before Thursday morning, certainly. That's when the trustees will begin discussing how to factor in the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test scores, which, per the Texas Education Agency's directive issued at the beginning of the month, will count toward 15 percent of a student's final course grade.

That wasn't the case before, with the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test: Students had to pass the TAKS test to graduate, but that was that. But STAAR's a whole different ball of chewing gum stuck under the desk; hence the proposals you see above and the wholesale grading revisions that will need to be made to local board policy, a marked-up copy of which follows. Among the proposed changes, for instance:

The Superintendent of Schools or designee shall develop guidelines regulating homework, makeup work, and grading procedures.

Numerical averages of 0.5 or above shall be rounded up to the next whole number. That is, 77.5 becomes 78, while 77.4 becomes 77. ...

A student who receives an interim progress report during the six-week grading period indicating the student's performance in any subject or class is below 70 or whose average is deemed borderline according to District guidelines, shall be encouraged to attend tutorial sessions, complete special projects or extra credit assignments prior to the end of the six-week grading period. When both the teacher and principal agree that extenuating circumstances are present, the student may be given additional time to complete the special projects or extra credit assignments beyond the end of the six-week grading period.

Till a few weeks ago, Texas school districts didn't know how much STAAR would count toward final grades. And they still don't know exactly how the tests will be graded: TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson tells Unfair Park this morning those standards won't be released till mid-February, about a month before the first STAAR tests hit schools. (The English test will be administered in March, followed May 7-18 by algebra, biology and others end-of-course testing.)

Says Culbertson, "districts will have to figure out" how to incorporate STAAR test results into their final grade. "All we say is it's 15 percent of the final grade. And once we have the standards set, the districts will be able to finalize their grading plans. ... Districts are beginning that discussion about how to incorporate those scores and revamp their policies. Some are simple, but we've heard some districts are doing away with student rankings altogether." (As you can see in the chart above, the DISD board will be told 3700 Ross is recommending not counting STAAR test results when it comes to tallying grade point averages or class rank.)

Jon Dahlander, DISD spokesman, confirms: This is just the beginning of the conversation; no doubt there will be many public discussions and town halls between now and the finalization of the new policy. Says Culberton: "You know parents will weigh in on this ... we hope." Your homework follows. STAAR End-of-Course Policy Impact

Amendment to Board Policy EIA (Local) Academic Achievement Grading/Progress Reports to Parents

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