Barnegat Schools Implementing New Procedures

By By Eric Englund | Sep 11, 2019

Barnegat — During the 2018-19 school year, the Barnegat Township School District hosted a series of evening workshops for staff and members of the community. The purpose of these gatherings was to analyze current district practices in the areas of assessment and grading.

A major outcome of the District Grading Workshops was the ardent interest of the community to adopt grade ranges aligned with College Board expectations. As such, rather than using the district’s traditional seven-point scale (i.e. A = 100-93), the district is moving to more commonly used 10-point scale (i.e. A = 100-90). Under this model, the failing grade is 64 or below.

In conjunction with this change, the district is transitioning to a 4.0 grade point average scale, rather than the 4.87 scale that was previously used. This change further adheres to College Board guidelines, and benefits students during their college application process.

James Barbiere, director of curriculum and instruction, said that to facilitate a clean and smooth transition, the district will lock the transcripts of all students who previously graduated under the old 4.87 model, to preserve the fidelity of those records. Then, the administration will update gradebooks for the current school years to align with the 4.0 GPA and 10-point scale model.

“Through these conversations, efforts have been made to protect the integrity of students’ previous GPAs by maintaining proportionality,” said Barbiere. “Therefore, students’ class rank will not be affected. However, the transition from 4.87 to 4.0 does actually have a slight mathematical benefit to students’ relative GPA, which will result in an increase of 0.0106 GPA points. Lastly, verbiage explaining the Grade Range/GPA transition will be placed on all students’ transcripts going forward.”

He said that in addition, the district is implementing a policy of retakes, or earned “second chances,” for certain assessments, where students will be given another opportunity to demonstrate their learning after remediating any gaps or deficiencies in their original assessment.

”This practice leaves a window open for student achievement and encourages students to continue attacking the curriculum until they reach a point of mastery,” said Barbiere. “At the most basic level, the idea is that all children can learn; students just learn at different rates and under different optimal conditions. Therefore, students should be given multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning, including the later mastery of concepts that were taught earlier in the curriculum or school year. Students do not always learn things the first time they are taught; however, the district wants to encourage a mindset where children continually strive to achieve, particularly in the face of adversity or initial failure. The goal is to build
students’ mastery of skills while simultaneously providing a safety net along the way to help students succeed.”

Barbiere said teachers are encouraged to embrace the spirit of earned second chances and to leverage this tool to help students learn.

“We have likely all been in situations where we have been overwhelmed, tired, neglectful or immature, and as a result, planned poorly,” he said. “As long as students do not make delays habitual, the idea of retakes is not usually a problem.’

— Eric Englund

ericenglund@thesandpaper.net

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