Online petition backs standards-based grades

The Lawrence school district’s use of standards-based grading for sixth-graders has some fans, after all.

Richard Gwin/Journal World-Photo. Therese Brink Edgecomb, who teaches sixth-grade language arts and social studies at Liberty Memorial Central Middle School, supports the use of standards-based grading for sixth-graders. She is among teachers and others who have signed an online petition in support of standards-based grading, a system that has drawn opposition from some parents and other teachers. In this photo, Edgecomb discussed the system during an informational forum, Grading

Support for the grading system — which gives students “S,” “M,” “T” and “E” grades based on approaching, satisfying or exceeding state standards — is showing up through an online petition created by an art teacher at Cordley School.

The effort counters another online petition, one created by parents upset that their new middle schoolers are receiving grades previously reserved for elementary students.

“We just wanted to make sure that school board members and the community understand that there are other voices out there,” said Julia Rose-Weston, in her 17th year teaching art at Cordley. “There is another voice in this community that believes it’s the best practice for our kids.”

Earlier this week, district administrators conducted two forums on the topic. The events drew dozens of opponents, many of whom maintain that standards-based grades overwhelm teachers, spur confusion and drain students of motivation.

Rose-Weston counters that while traditional letter grades are fine, use of standards-based grading is the most effective way to:

• Inform students about their mastery of knowledge.

• Inform teachers about what they should teach.

• Inform parents about specific learning.

“It assesses the child instead of averaging a bunch of assignments,” she said.

Rose-Weston launched the petition nearly a month ago, and as of Thursday evening it had gathered 46 signees. About 20 are teachers in the district, she said.