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Othello schools make changes to secondary grading system

Staff Writer | December 16, 2020 1:00 AM

OTHELLO — A new grading policy recently was introduced for middle and high school students in the Othello School District.

The grading standards were implemented Friday for all classes at McFarland Middle School, Desert Oasis High School and Othello High School, after review at the Dec. 7 Othello School Board meeting.

Rather than a 100-point scale, the new scale will be 50 points. Students will be eligible for credit when they turn in late assignments. Students also will be allowed to retake tests and quizzes at least once.

Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Pete Perez said in a Dec. 9 interview district administrators have been talking about grading standards and practices for at least five years. But the COVID-19 outbreak prompted some further study and the changes, Perez said.

Many schools statewide closed to in-person instruction in March in response to the coronavirus outbreak, including MMS, DOHS and OHS. Perez said the online learning presented a dilemma in determining its effectiveness.

“Whether we could assess, are they learning?” Perez said.

The idea, Perez said, is to have grades be a guide to what kids know now, and what instruction they need to make progress.

In addition, said OHS Assistant Principal Jim Wood during the Dec. 7 presentation, the new grading system will give kids a better chance to catch up when they fall behind. When kids know they can catch up, there’s a chance they will get more involved in school, Wood said.

McFarland Assistant Principal Brenda Dunn, also speaking during the Dec. 7 presentation, said students who are working for As and Bs will see little, if any, change.

“This grading scale will not affect anyone striving for an A. In fact, it won’t change anything for anybody from Ds to As,” Dunn said. “The expectations are still there, and students have to perform to earn the grades that they get.”

Desert Oasis Principal Josh Tovar said Dec. 7 the traditional grading system has revealed some inconsistencies.

“We have many students in our system who have been passing our classes, but yet, when we look at the number who have been passing their classes compared to the number of students passing the state assessment, it does not correlate,” Tovar said. “We have more students passing their classes than passing the state assessment.”