Jackson changes its grading schedule

Friday, September 21, 2007

Justin O'Neal isn't too pleased his parents will discover his grades sooner under Jackson High School's new grading schedule.

"I'll get grounded quicker," the 16-year-old said.

The Jackson School District implemented a six-week system for grades eight through 12, meaning O'Neal's parents will be able to pick up his report card at parent-teacher conferences next week. The first term ends today. Last year the district worked on a quarter system, so conferences were at the end of October.

Superintendent Dr. Ron Anderson said the earlier conferences will allow parents to discover sooner if their child is struggling and take action.

"There will be an earlier conversation about what's going on and what we can do," he said.

Jackson High School principal Rick McClard said those interventions include a new "Success Center" for after-school peer tutoring supervised by a teacher.

Parents already have been able to access their child's grades through the online program ParentLink.

This year, students' grades will be continuous, meaning grading won't start over at the new term beginning Monday.

Previously if a child scored an A one quarter and an F the next, the two quarters were averaged for the semester grade, the only grade that goes on students' permanent record. McClard said this could be confusing for parents trying to guess midsemester what average their child would receive in the end. With the new system, the report cards will be more like progress reports, with parents knowing exactly where their student stands for the semester.

Junior Brittney Wikle said her family uses ParentLink and they like the new system because it keeps them more informed.

But other students say the change leaves them feeling increased pressure. "It doesn't give us enough time to get our grades up," said Brittney Spencer, 16. She acknowledged she would have the semester before her grades became final, but said: "To the parents it doesn't matter. It matters what your grades are right there when they get it in the mail."

Students from kindergarten to seventh grade will remain on the quarter grading system but will have earlier conferences in conjunction with the higher class levels.

The Cape Girardeau School District has been using the same six-week system for the last six years. Central High School principal Mike Cowan says it has taken parents awhile to make the adjustment but that the system gives them a more immediate and accurate assessment of their child's grade.


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