LOWELL | The Tri-Creek School Board has approved substantial changes affecting weighted grades, valedictorians, and elementary report cards.
The changes were recommended after nearly a year of study by the Tri-Creek Grading Task Force, comprised of staff, parents and students.
"They really put in a lot of time and effort," board member Michelle Dumbsky said. She said their results are impressive.
Weighted grades will have less heft for the classes of 2014, 2015 and 2016 as they will be used for scholarship purposes only.
Beginning with the class of 2017, weighted grades will apply to grade point averages and all other purposes, but students must earn a C in the class to get the weighted grade.
Advanced placement courses will receive an additional 1.0, while dual credit courses and honors courses will get an added 0.5.
It was decided that valedictorians and salutatorians will be phased out and replaced with the Latin model used by colleges.
Lynne Haberlin, Director of Innovations in Learning for Tri-Creek, headed up the task force.
"The intention in our move to the Laude system is to be more inclusive, to create a system that will allow us to honor more students who have worked hard and taken rigorous courses," Haberlin said.
Beginning with the class of 2015, students will be recognized with the distinctions of Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Cum Laude in addition to naming valedictorians and salutatorians. Students must meet both GPA and credit requirements for distinction.
By 2017, there will no valedictorians and salutatorians designated.
At the elementary level, parent-friendly language was recommended by the grading task force and approved by the board.
The academic grading scale was expanded to five tiers. Advanced shows the student exceeds expectations. Proficient indicates the student is developing appropriately. Progressing shows the student is developing with support.
Needs Improvement indicates the student is dependent on support through interventions, and Unsatisfactory shows dependency on intensive support and no understanding of concepts.
The fifth category is used when the students' concepts and skills have not been assessed.
"I'm really excited about the elementary grade cards," Dumbsky said. "They will give parents a better understanding of where their child is academically," she said.
Tri-Creek's switch to a New Tech learning environment means a new assessment language.
For example, necessary 21st century skills required in that environment are labeled learner outcomes.
As approved by the board, those outcomes required are content and critical thinking, written and oral communication, collaboration and teamwork and self-direction and work ethic.
In line with that, the board approved the addition of "learner outcomes" to the elementary report cards. The categories are knowledge and thinking, collaboration and learning behaviors.