In December last year, the Falcon School District 49 administration team distributed a survey to Falcon High School parents, students and staff regarding the standards-based grading system.According to the survey results posted on the D 49 website, parents at FHS expressed dissatisfaction with the grading system, as did the students, although to a lesser degree. The results indicated that teachers showed ìmild supportî for the system.The results also show that, for the fall semester 2011, 33 percent of the total grades given out were ìAî grades, while 4 percent were ìFî grades. By the fall semester of 2014, 28 percent of the grades were ìAî grades, and 7 percent were ìFî grades.Based on the survey results, the following changes will be made for the spring 2015 semester:
- Eliminate inconsistency by shifting from hand-calculating grades to using the digital Infinite Campus program to calculate all grades.
- Remove the constraint that a single low grade will automatically constrain or cap the final grade.
- Change the grade calculation so that a straight average between two grades, or groups of grades, will round up instead of down.
- Change the assessment-retake policy so that if a student retakes an assessment, the final grade will be based on the higher of the two assessment grades.
- Allow for grade recalculation requests if a student who fails a semester grade was negatively impacted by the previous policies.
On Feb. 17, the administration at Falcon School District 49 facilitated a meeting for the community and staff of Falcon High School on revising the current innovation plan, or creating a new one.Peter Hilts, D 49 chief education officer, said this meeting was meant to gather the community to review the current innovation plan and discuss possibilities for what the future educational program will look like.Michelle Freeburger, FHS parent, said that initially she thought the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the details of how the standards-based grading system was going to change. ìI liked the tone of the meeting,î she said. ìHowever, it was predominantly spent on identifying general goals. We did not really get into details, and I think that, while the approach might have been well-intentioned to work on general goals and prioritizing; I think many of us were ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work. After months of dialog, we felt like the issues were pretty well-known.îFreeburger said Hilts made it clear that the meeting would include discussion of the grading system; but, since it was just part of the innovation plan, it would be just part of the discussion.ìWhether we are talking about an innovation plan or a program, we are talking about a complex system,î Hilts said. ìOne of the things we emphasized was the interrelationship of learning, assessment, documentation and feedback. We are starting with a broad look. You cannot have one part without the other.îHilts said there will be an ongoing comment period after the meeting; and, there will be at least one more meeting and comment period. ìWe are being purposeful, but we have to be somewhat patient to make sure we understand how these different elements act,î he said.Although she attended the meeting hoping to get down to specifics with the grading system, Freeburger said she also attended to thank the FHS administration in person for the work they have done to mitigate some of the grading system issues.ìI really believe that principal (Cheryl) DeGeorge has been listening to parents, and I truly believe she made changes based on parent and student feedback and on the survey results,î she said. ìShe did not have to make those changes this school year, but she did, and they are really going to help the students. It is very much appreciated.îHilts said the information gathered at the meetings and during the comment periods, coupled with the survey results, will help guide the proposal for a new innovation plan. Currently, the administration has a good idea of what the community expects from the proposed plan, but no proposal has been developed.ìThe innovation process is not bound by a deadline,î Hilts said. ìWe just want to make sure that whatever plan we have going forward is in front of the board in time to implement it next year.ìWe will have some kind of response to the innovation plan that we are currently operating under. There will not be the condition; where, if we run out of time, we stick with the current plan.î