No more zeroes -- at the end of the grading period, anyway.
That's the upshot of the School District's new Student Progression Plan (SPP), which was passed by the School Board at Tuesday night's monthly meeting.
The plan, which was unanimously approved, numbers dozens of pages, but the major changes affecting grading and grade advancement are fairly simple, according to District Director of Accountability and Assessment Christina McPherson.
"The highlighted changes specifically include a new Virtual Education policy and Academically Challenging Curriculum to Enhance Learning (ACCEL) policy, as now required by Florida statute," said McPherson, among 19 people, including principals, assistant principals and guidance counselors from Key West to Key Largo charged with compiling the plan. The SPP is updated annually to align with new state legislative requirements.
To see the whole plan, click on http://www.keysschools.com/schoolBoard/agenda_folders/12-13_Agenda_Folde..., scroll to the bottom, and click on Approve Student Progression Plan.
"The ACCEL policy sets forth guidelines for student acceleration in grades kindergarten through 12," McPherson said. "Additional graduation requirements were updated to include End of Course assessments in algebra, biology, geometry and U.S. history, depending on a student's entry into the ninth grade. Students who entered grade nine during the 2011-12 school year and beyond are also required to complete one online course for graduation."
Of particular interest to students and their parents, the numeric grades at the end of the quarter, or nine-week grading period, will default to a 50, as the lowest "F" possible, for the end of the marking period only. Previously, no default was applied.
"The default only applies to the end of nine weeks grade," McPherson stressed. "Several schools in the district had already implemented this as a school-based policy. It was included in the SPP to provide consistency throughout the county."
Pupils may still receive zeros in the grade book on assignments, quizzes, tests, projects, etc., she added.
"Students will continue to be challenged with more rigorous expectations as the state shifts from the FCAT and transitions to the new PARCC assessments."
Prior to Tuesday's meeting, board Chairman Andy Griffiths called for "a philosophical debate" about the plan.
"It's not appropriate to use a zero on a 100-point scale as the floor," Griffiths said. "It would be appropriate on a 4-point scale. But you can't tell me a kid knows zero. That would be like a punishment. It's not an evaluation of what he or she knows."