Boise School District makes changes to its grading policy

Students will no longer get a zero.

Nationwide, schools are beginning to implement a "no zero" grading policy.

Administrators say the goal is to motivate students to actually learn the course material and to have the letter grade they receive accurately reflect their knowledge.

If you have children in the Boise School District, you will see these changes go into effect this year.

The 2016 - 2017 school year will be known as "year zero" for a new policy change throughout the district. This will be the first year all teachers will be expected to implement these policy changes - from grading procedures to re-taking tests.

Here's what you can expect in the next couple of years if you have children in this district.  

“We're now saying that the learning is important and that we're not just moving on to the next concept, we're going to make sure that the student has learned it,” said Debbie Donovan, administrator of student programs.

Beginning this fall, zeros will no longer be given out in all public schools in Boise. Instead, students will receive a 50, which is still considered failing, but will not be as detrimental to the student’s overall grade.

“Students can still fail, that is absolutely possible, but this is really about encouraging students to keep trying and keep learning until you get it right,” said Stacey Roth, administrator of student programs.

Under this new policy, students will also be able to re-take major tests and do major assignments over if they received a low grade. This could be for an "A" student who happened to do poorly on a test and wants to maintain their high GPA, or for a student who is struggling with the material.

“The new practices encourage that and motivate the students to want to learn the content, rather than take the easy way out and get a zero or not redo an assignment if they are struggling with it,” said Donovan.

And when it comes to preparing students for the future, Roth and Donovan say students will be better off with this new system. 

“Is it important that they know the information on Tuesday third period?" said Roth. "Or is it important that they know the material? At the end of the day, they're going to be better off for the workplace, they're going to be more prepared for college and career having learned the material.”

Focus groups from each of the schools in the Boise School District consisting of students and their parents have been used to see how beneficial this policy change would be. Roth says time and time again parents and students have expressed concerns about the grading procedures.

“The teachers have said my students got a 'C' on this,” said Roth. “They went back and they learned it now, they got a ‘B.’ They’re increasing the learning and the students themselves are saying this is so motivating because if I get a zero, or I fail a test and I have no chance to actually show what I know, then why even try.”

We also asked what will stop a student who simply doesn't want to take the test or doesn't study because they know they'll just get more chances to take the test from taking advantage of the new system?

Roth said to prevent that from happening anyone who has to take a test over or redo an essay for example, has to attend study sessions during lunch and after school, to not only show that they are actually struggling with the material, but that they are also working to improve their grade.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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