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Archive for Friday, October 3, 2003

Lyons district move to drop ‘D’ grade creates confusion

New scale goes straight from ‘C’ to failure

October 3, 2003

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— The board of education for Lyons USD 405 is reviewing a policy change that eliminated the grade of "D" for students.

The grade was dropped several years ago when the district standardized its grading scale.

The grading scales previously varied at each school in the district, with the middle school a 60-70-80-90 scale in which below 60 was a failing grade and above 90 an A.

However, at the high school, 69 and below was an F, 70-77 was a D and 78-84 was a C.

Some students going from middle school to high school were struggling to meet the higher C requirement, Supt. Edwin Church said.

"We were having some concern from freshmen parents that the difference was just too severe," Church said. "Standardizing made more sense."

Now, the 70-77 range covers a C, and below 70 percent is a failing grade districtwide.

But teachers are now concerned that parents and students don't see the importance of improving a C grade.

"The teachers believe, and I have no reason to doubt this, that dropping the D grade eliminates the sense of urgency," Principal Gary Sechrist said. "Students take home a C grade and parents might see it as passing. What they don't realize is their child is close to failing."

Parents are notified when the grade drops to 74 percent or lower, but some teachers are concerned the district has made the lower percentage acceptable by attaching the C letter grade to it.

"I understand the teachers' concern," Church said. "They think without the D grade, students aren't warned they are getting close to failure. D is traditionally a yellow light to get in gear. It is a surprise to some kids when 70 percent is passing, but below that they are failing."

Teachers brought the concerns to the board of education last week at a special meeting.

President Deberah Wiens said the board would continue to discuss the grading scale at future meetings.

However, she sympathizes with the teachers.

"The mind-set is if you are getting a C, you don't need to try any harder," Wiens said. "But the reality is, if you have a 74 percent, you are four points from failing."

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