D86 Board: Revise newly unveiled grading scheme

Ken Knutson’s recent article “D86 Board: Grading plan misses mark” got it correct in referring to “unveiling” the superintendent’s Learning Leadership Team grading plan, which potentially masqueraded under the purview of COVID-19 executive order practices.

Knutson’s reporting disregarded the take-home assignment, however: motivation, self-esteem and anxiety are all at risk when summative tests prevail or dominate academic settings. He further omitted the acknowledgment from Dr. Chris Covino that there was, unfortunately, no direct communication to parents regarding the strategic plan’s overhaul of course grading practices with this over-reach favoring high-stakes, ego-involved performance goals. Let’s give Covino an A for honesty in his apology for not communicating changes to parents and acknowledging that he will “own it.”

Now, what is the fix? No current student should wait for an unveiling of outcomes until January, at which point an administrative roundtable may decide to re-convene to re-configure data as to the success or failure of this uncertain approach of weighting summative assessments as 90 or 100 percent of the total grade, a practice traditionally applied to college students. Furthermore, outcome measures alluding to 1) how many students drop a course or 2) a community crisis in grading are not data points we should be willing to subject incoming eighth-graders to as district enrollment awaits their entrance.

As a parent and psychologist, I give high marks to the problem-solving effort from D86 BOE members Waters, James and Levinthal, who continue to press for transparency and commitment to equal access in course content, fair disclosure and discourse in grading policy changes and the need to revise and retake this formative task back to the drawing board. — Cathleen P. O’Hare, Burr Ridge