During the next school year there will be less emphasis on a student's most recent work in determining final grades and more emphasis on straight averaging under a new grading policy for Prince George's County Public Schools which has been approved by The board voted to ease the schools' current policy of emphasizing students' most recent work in grading, with one exception, recommended by Superintendent Edward J. Feeney. When the average of grades for individual marking periods falls halfway between two grades, the later work would be the determining factor in the final grade. A student who earned an A in the first quarter and a B in the second quarter would get a B, and a student who earned a B in the first quarter and an A in the second would get an A for a semester grade.
The new grading policies and practices, which are to take effect in the next school year, came after nearly a year of discussion on several issues and an in-depth examination by a board-appointed task force composed of teachers, principals and instructional specialists, parents, students and Board of Education members.
Under the new policy, attendance will have less impact on grades than it has in the past. Currently, a student who accumulated 15 or more unexcused absences in a semester course, or eight or more in any quarter of a year-long course, was to be given a failing grade. The failing grade would lower the student's overall grade point average.
The proposal adopted by the board specifies that in the ninth through 12th grades, a student who builds up 10 or more unexcused absences persemester or 20 or more in a school year will receive no grade. The student would thus receive no credit for the course, but that would not be calculated into the student's grade point average.
In any course, performance in class must be one of the factors on which a student is graded, Superintendent Feeney told the board. Thus, when a student is illegally absent excessively, there couldn't be sufficient work on which to give a grade.
Before a grade could be withheld for excessive truancy, however, a school would have to demonstrate that at least three times while the unexcused absences were accumulating it had contacted the parents, discussed the absences and offered to work with them to help solve the probelm.
One part of the present practice on unexcused absences in all grades will be retained. If a student misses a quiz or class exercise on which a grade is given, the grade for that day would be zero or failure, with no opportunity to make it up.
As in the past, students will receive letter grades, despite the task force proposal that pupil progress be reported in numerical percentage terms, along with letter grade equivalents.
The task force proposal to lift the lid on grades that can be earned by students working well below their assigned grade level won endorsement from both the superintendent and the board. Under the current policy, which was overturned, a student being taught from material designed for students two or more years below his actual grade level could not receive an A. Report cards for elementary school children, however, will continue to tell parents at what levels their children are working, and the level of courses will be clearly delineated at the secondary level.
Both the superintendent and the board agreed with the task force suggestion for a process for parents or students to appeal a grade if they choose. But grounds for appeal are limited to allegations of an error in averaging an allegation that the teacher graded on factors other than those set out at the beginning of the course or an allegation of personal teacher bias.
The board also approved a recommendation that statements of course objectives and topics be distributed to all students and parents at the beginning of each course. Each teacher is also to give students and parents a statement of the factors which will be used in grading thateacher's course.