As STAAR Testing Looms, DISD Trustees to Begin Discussing Changes to Grading Policy

STAARPolicyImplications.JPG
From a briefing prepared for the DISD board of trustees for Thursday's meeting
After the jump are two docs parents of kiddos in the Dallas Independent School District might want to look at sooner than later -- before Thursday morning, certainly. That's when the trustees will begin discussing how to factor in the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness test scores, which, per the Texas Education Agency's directive issued at the beginning of the month, will count toward 15 percent of a student's final course grade.

That wasn't the case before, with the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills test: Students had to pass the TAKS test to graduate, but that was that. But STAAR's a whole different ball of chewing gum stuck under the desk; hence the proposals you see above and the wholesale grading revisions that will need to be made to local board policy, a marked-up copy of which follows. Among the proposed changes, for instance:
The Superintendent of Schools or designee shall develop guidelines regulating homework, makeup work, and grading procedures.

Numerical averages of 0.5 or above shall be rounded up to the next whole number. That is, 77.5 becomes 78, while 77.4 becomes 77. ...

A student who receives an interim progress report during the six-week grading period indicating the student's performance in any subject or class is below 70 or whose average is deemed borderline according to District guidelines, shall be encouraged to attend tutorial sessions, complete special projects or extra credit assignments prior to the end of the six-week grading period. When both the teacher and principal agree that extenuating circumstances are present, the student may be given additional time to complete the special projects or extra credit assignments beyond the end of the six-week grading period.
Till a few weeks ago, Texas school districts didn't know how much STAAR would count toward final grades. And they still don't know exactly how the tests will be graded: TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson tells Unfair Park this morning those standards won't be released till mid-February, about a month before the first STAAR tests hit schools. (The English test will be administered in March, followed May 7-18 by algebra, biology and others end-of-course testing.)

Says Culbertson, "districts will have to figure out" how to incorporate STAAR test results into their final grade. "All we say is it's 15 percent of the final grade. And once we have the standards set, the districts will be able to finalize their grading plans. ... Districts are beginning that discussion about how to incorporate those scores and revamp their policies. Some are simple, but we've heard some districts are doing away with student rankings altogether." (As you can see in the chart above, the DISD board will be told 3700 Ross is recommending not counting STAAR test results when it comes to tallying grade point averages or class rank.)

Jon Dahlander, DISD spokesman, confirms: This is just the beginning of the conversation; no doubt there will be many public discussions and town halls between now and the finalization of the new policy. Says Culberton: "You know parents will weigh in on this ... we hope." Your homework follows. STAAR End-of-Course Policy ImpactAmendment to Board Policy EIA (Local) Academic Achievement Grading/Progress Reports to Parents

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WW
WW

GRADING POLICY - You either know it, or you don't..

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Read the translation here: Don't let Johnny fail, Period. Give him the highest possible grade, so even if he fails the STAAR, he will pass the course...

I love the part that talks about "special projects or extra assignments." Bull-crud. The reason almost all students fail is the refusal to COMPLETE assignments. So, he doesn't do any work I give him, so what, give him MORE so he can pass?

I have spoken out on this for years, and we have won a few victories. The two major unions, NEA and AFT, even went past DISD and on to Austin to stop the lying with grade of a 50 for NO work done. Other districts were tempted to use it, so thank God, it was stopped.

Now, if the kid has a 67-69 overall, they look at YOU, the teacher. What did YOU do, or not do, to get him to pass? What did YOU give him, what did YOU allow him to do.... No accountability on the student's shoulders.

DISD is quaking in their boots over STAAR, because they know the 9th graders have NEVER been held accountable; they even pass 8th grade failures on to high school. We still don't know too much about the test, the exemptions for special ed kids is about gone--which is weird, since federal law mandates we accomodate their work. So, their work, but not the test??

The years of ignoring warnings from us teachers about lack of  homework, too many distractions in elementary school, little discipline overall allowed, skewed failure rates which result in social passing... it is all coming home now. And guess who will get all the blame? You know who....

DISD Teacher
DISD Teacher

While we dicker back and forth about how much the test should or should not count, here is the reality:

While public school kids are spending weeks test-prepping, practice-testing, and actually testing, private school kids are busy learning and expanding their skills and understanding.

These tests are not necessary for college.  Thousands of kids each year go off to elite colleges straight out of private high schools and do just fine.  Most even graduate with a degree.

The testing industry uses the weak and the poor to make a profit.

Debbie Ratcliffe
Debbie Ratcliffe

Districts have known that the EOC must count for 15 percent of the final course grade since 2007 when the bill requiring this passed. Now districts are fleshing out exactly how to do that since many district have previously given semester grades, not one final course grade

J. Erik Jonsson
J. Erik Jonsson

Talked to an educational consultant last weekend who claims that STAAR is a MUCH harder test than TAKS but also a much better one in terms of testing for reasoning skill.

Michael MacNaughton
Michael MacNaughton

They will select the policy that will make the district look the best after testing...meaning setting the bar as low as possible...again.  Spineless.

Titus Groan
Titus Groan

It should be - it'll be the first time high schoolers are actually tested on grade level.

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