New grading system at Rocky Mountain High school causing major concern

Posted at 10:27 PM, Dec 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-12 00:27:14-05

Hundreds of parents met inside the West Ada School District Boardroom to voice their concerns on a new grading system implemented at Rocky Mountain High School this year.

They let the Board of Trustees know that they want this semesters grades salvaged because, while they are for this new way of learning, too many students are left scrambling, with just over two weeks left in the semester, and with GPA's that are down the drain due to assessment grades being the only grades counted.

"More than just the 4.0 student they had that is now sitting with a 2.1, 2.3, but emotionally, they feel dumb," said Lori Frasure, parent of a student at Rocky Mountain High School.

The state of Idaho is moving toward a standards-based education system, West Ada School District is just trying to get a head start at Rocky Mountain High School.

"With the information they gave the students, it literally was, 'hey guess what, you're not going to have to do homework anymore, hey guess what, late work, what's that? You can turn that in later. And, you can take the test as many times as you want’,” said Bart Hamilton, parent of a senior at Rocky Mountain High School.  

The grading system is composed of three foundations:

  1. Not using homework in calculating the final grade

  2. No grade reductions for late work

  3. No timeframe on test retakes

"Not foreseeing how some of the retakes, the stumbling blocks with the retakes, was going to happen," said Mike Hirano, Principal at Rocky Mountain High School.

It's a new grading system implemented at the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year, with a purpose of grading students on what they actually know, not on class behavior or practice work. It’s a system parents were excited about... initially.

"The implementation wasn't right. The program is great! It's being used in different areas throughout the country, but the way it's been implemented has not been effective," said Frasure.

But the concerns go way back. Rocky was 5 days into the school semester before administration made parents aware of the grading change.

"We received an email document that went over, kind of, what this would be. It was not done in a real bullet line, clear fashion," said Frasure.

And now, with just over two weeks left in the school semester, parents argue GPA's are not true reflections of their student's knowledge, and for some, it's leaving college scholarships on the line.

"I have a three-time state champion. We're very fortunate in our home that he's got some potential offers from division one schools. And during this recruiting process, at any moment, the coaches or recruiters could come to the school and pull his transcripts to see how he's doing, and that could be a difference between a division one scholarship or not," said Hamilton.

And the administration is owning up, they say they want to help students make up for lost grades by allowing students to come in for test retakes after school and on Saturdays.

"It could have been clearer. It would have been great to say ‘Here’s what is, here’s what we’re going to do’."

That being the administration's ultimate hope moving forward into the next semester.

Many parents agree that this is the best grading system moving forward, they just want clarity and a more distinct outline moving into 2019.

Their voices were heard this Tuesday evening and changes to be implemented by the school board are under consideration.