Looks like it’s time for members of the Lawrence school board to determine what, if any, new direction to take regarding the use of standards-based grading for sixth-graders.
Board members are scheduled to receive a report Monday night from Rick Doll, superintendent of the Lawrence school district, regarding two recent public forums addressing the issue.
Kim Bodensteiner, the district’s chief academic officer, recommends in a written report of her own that administrators provide the board and the public a report by the end of the year outlining “progress” on a list of 13 “action steps.”
The goal, Doll said Friday, would be “to make improvements to standards-based grading.”
Steps would include meetings, focus groups and other efforts involving teachers, district committees, school site councils, training sessions and research plans related to use of such grades for sixth-graders.
Workshops in August and September, for example, would help guide parents through the district’s Skyward computer system so that parents could see how educators would be entering data regarding students’ progress on standards and skills.
The district has been using standards-based grades in elementary schools since 2003. This year such grades moved up with sixth-graders into middle schools, the first time they have been employed outside an elementary setting.
Sixth-graders continue to receive standards-based grades — S, M, T and E marks, based on their performance related to state academic standards and specific learner behaviors — while also receiving typical letter grades of A, B, C, D or F in specific subjects.
Some parents and teachers have objected to standards-based grades being used in middle schools, saying that teachers lack time and training for their use, students lose motivation to strive for excellence, and parents lack the ability to properly tracks students’ work and assist them in their learning.
Mark Bradford, board president, has indicated board members would consider issues related to the grading system this month or next. Reports from Doll and Bodensteiner offer the first opportunity for board members to discuss issues as a formal agenda item during a board meeting.
Also up for approval Monday:
• Spend $33,034 to replace kitchen equipment at Quail Run School.
• Purchase workbooks, paper and other “consumables” for the district’s “Handwriting Without Tears” program for $32,898.
• Spend $30,456 for an elevated storage system at Free State High School to help accommodate additional equipment and materials needed at the school with the arrival this year of ninth-graders.
Monday’s meeting begins at 7 p.m. at district headquarters, 110 McDonald Drive. Board members intend to gather early for an executive session, set to begin at 6:15 p.m., to discuss upcoming teacher negotiations.