School board approves CILT-revised guidelines

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School board approves CILT-revised guidelines


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As of next year, the district grading policy and guidelines will advise teachers to minimize the inclusion of extra credit, while students should expect to no longer receive a grade bump from enrichment classes taken anywhere outside of RJUHSD campus sites.

The school board approved the new policy and guidelines at the board meeting on February 13. It’s passing marked the culmination of years of planning and work with educators and people around the district. According to one of the policy’s major facilitators, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction Jess Borjon, the policy was the combined work of the contributions and feedback from many staff members and students situated around the district.

“There were many voices that contributed to this,” Borjon said. “There were many writers. Representatives from all of the sites participated.”

The need for grading policy revisions had already become clear to Borjon long before he became an active part of the project. According to Borjon, he first realized the inadequacy of the grade policy over a decade ago. His experience working with grade data and different schools within the district led him to see large variations between class grading systems, many of which oftentimes occured in the same school.

“That’s where it originated,” Borjon said. “Simply seeing the issues around grading that were not learning based.”

These discrepancies caused him to question the proficiency with which the grading policy operated around the district.

“Where we arrived at recently was that we needed to ensure that the grades across our district and across schools were based on learning, and based on supporting learning for students, and were done in a way that was fair,” Borjon said.

The attempt at creating a district-wide grading policy began as a project from CILT, the Continuous Improvement Leadership Team. With time, it became a more collaborative effort as staff and other representatives from around the district joined the revision process.

Language teacher Veronica Davalos followed the policy as it was in development. She found few complications from initiating a classroom-wide ban of extra credit in deference to the policy discouraging extra credit in a previous rendition of the grading policy.

“Eventually, you have to transition,” Davalos said. “I’d rather just transition, get it over with, and not have to deal with it later.”

Despite the presence and opinions of teachers and district staff alike as the policy evolved, many of the points presented still face mixed opinions.

Sophomore Raquel Thomas originally disagreed with several points emphasized by earlier parts of the policy, as well as those that remained in the finalized version.

“The new policy will definitely separate students into two groups: the ones who want to take the class solely for the credit and the ones who want to take it to learn,” Thomas said.

Those working on the policy kept the proceedings open and encouraged outreach and contributions from staff. Borjon participated in several meetings when the staff were introduced to changes the policy brought with it and copies of the draft were sent to each school site within the district.

Social science teacher Carol Crabtree was introduced to the policy changes a few months before the school board finalized it. Like all teachers around the district, she received updates on the formation of the policy during faculty meetings. Crabtree expressed concern over some of the points the finalized policy and its previous drafts attempted to push forward.

“I think what we’ll eventually see is a larger disconnect between student achievement and student grades,” Crabtree said. “I have lot of concerns. I need to learn more about it, the reasoning that went into the decision.”

According to Borjon, the goal of the grading policy revisions was to eliminate subjective language, which was a widely supported objective, and emphasize student goals and outcomes. The additions to the policy meant to fix grade structures that didn’t reflect student learning.