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Kaneland school board hears talk of grading standards, surveys

Published: Tuesday, April 15, 2014 11:16 p.m. CDT

SUGAR GROVE – Research into standards-based grading continues at Kaneland School District 302, with officials taking a look at how students are assessed and concepts are mastered.

Erika Schlichter, district director of educational services for those in sixth through 12th grades, explained at Monday’s district board meeting how a different approach can help determine just how well a student understands a topic, in ways much deeper than a letter grade could.

She made clear, however, that it didn’t mean that the district had any thoughts of doing away with letter grades at the middle and high school levels. The district does not issue letter grades at the elementary level.

“This is more about making grades more meaningful and not about dropping grades,” Schlichter said. “In the end, the actual report card might look the same. It might look different. … I don’t see many secondary schools abandoning grades.”

She said teachers participating in the program are looking into determining how they could “allow students to redo something to show that they mastered it.” And also, she said, a letter grade might not be enough to determine that. A “B” grade, for instance, could mean that a student mastered two-thirds of a lesson, but might not know much about the remaining third.

And while district officials will continue to take a hard look at how students can be measured, they also revealed some information about what parents in the district think of their policies and personnel. Superintendent Jeff Schuler shared some results from a recent parent satisfaction survey. Schuler identified areas that were cause for celebrations, as well as those in which study and improvement would be necessary.

According to information presented at the meeting, parents said that they, in general, think that teachers provide just the right amount of homework, with 65 percent of people answering that they “strongly agree” or are “very satisfied” with that. Among other items listed in “questions with highest results” were that teachers treated parents respectfully (58 percent), schools are clean and well-kept (57 percent) and teachers are caring, dedicated and competent (51 percent).

Among the items listed in “questions with lower results” were how well activities match student interests (7 percent), the satisfaction with current opportunities for parent involvement (7 percent), how assessments and grading evaluate learning (6 percent), how administrators create a learning environment (6 percent) and how children consistently are prepared for the next education level (6 percent).

Also, the district collected comments from parents, but officials did not list any of the comments at Monday’s meeting. Asked by board member Pedro Rivas whether anything on the survey surprised him, Schuler said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the perception of relationships. He said on the other side, on the subject of lesson engagement, “we want to dig into that more.”

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