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Franklin opens discussion about grading practices

First of three public information meetings on tap

Jan. 7, 2013

Franklin - A special committee has been studying grading practices in the Franklin School District since last summer. Now elementary school parents are invited to attend the first of three informational programs on the issue.

"Many districts have embarked on this journey, reviewing grading practices," said Jamie Foeckler, principal of Pleasant View Elementary School, who is leading the district's Grading For Learning committee. The 40-member committee includes teachers, administrators, parents and School Board member Melissa Klein.

The first informational program is scheduled for Jan. 17 at Pleasant View. Additional programs are set for Forest Park Middle School on March 14 and Franklin High School on April 18.

Foeckler said he began studying grading practices several years ago, when he was an assistant principal at Forest Park.

"At the core of this is standards-based teaching and learning," Foeckler said. "When you give a kid a test in the traditional model, you give a final test score. We're looking at breaking it down further for more specific feedback, so kids can see 'where I need to improve.' "

The principal has discussed the issue with administrators in the Elmbrook and Muskego-Norway districts, who have already been working on grading issues. The Franklin district also has initiated contact with districts outside Wisconsin that have implemented changes in their grading practices and has brought in educational consultant Rick Wormeli to discuss grading practices and how revised grading practices work in classrooms.

According to Foeckler, "Parents on the committee are very enthusiastic" about changing grading practices, and so are teachers.

"It's been very positive," Foeckler said of teachers' responses. "Anytime you talk about getting more specific feedback, teachers are enthusiastic."

So far, the district has worked to establish consistent practices on several other student performance issues, including homework, extra credit work and whether students can re-do work. Foeckler said the Grading For Learning committee has not yet set a target date for submitting recommendations to the School Board, but has a goal of instituting new report cards and grading practices in the 2014-15 school year.

"Report cards would change, the grading scale would change, and the assessments," he said. Revamped report cards would be more comprehensive, Foeckler added, but "not overwhelming, to the point where it would be pages and pages."

Ultimately, the district hopes to develop grading practices that better reflect students' learning and grade reporting that offers clearer indicators of students' progress.

Next Step

WHAT: public information meeting on grading practices

WHEN: 6 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 17

WHERE: Pleasant View Elementary School, 4601 W. Marquette Ave.

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