New Grading System Causing Some Concerns For Parents In Solon

By Mark Carlson, Reporter

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By Liz Blood

SOLON, Iowa -- A new grading system click here is causing some concerns for parents in the Solon Community School District. Parents claim the new system, called "standards based grading," is resulting in bad grades for good students.

"It sounds good in theory, and last year you read about it and it made sense," said Karen Sherman, a mother of a Solon sophomore. "Now you're looking at their grades, and you're saying what is happening here? It's just a big change, a lot of kids that were doing well are not doing so well."

The change has support from the Branstad administration. The goal is to put an emphasis on a student's overall knowledge of material, said Nathan Wear, Solon High School Principal. Nearly every teacher within the school are using the system after it was first introduced a few years ago.

Students have to prove that they understand a number of topics or have mastered them throughout the semester. Teachers grade through a series of assessments, which can include tests, projects or activities. Students who score weakly can re-take assessments to demonstrate gained knowledge later in the semester.

"We think in this system students actually have a chance to improve their own GPA's rather than a traditional system, which doesn't allow students to re-asses or demonstrate further knowledge of their knowledge, it's just kind of a one check and done and they're moving on to the next thing," said Wear.

Wear held a series of meetings with parents Thursday night to discuss their concerns. Many concerns centered around the emphasis of in-class assessments over homework.

"Homework is not counted towards your grade, so a lot of kids aren't doing their homework because they don't think it matters, so they're not testing as well," said Sherman.

Wear acknowledged there is a need to work through some issues, but said the new model "is the right option" for the district.

To watch a video explanation of standards-based grading click here

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