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Homework and behavior won’t affect grades under new BCPS policy

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Baltimore County Public Schools’ new “Grading & Reporting Procedures Manual” says that homework and behavior in class will not affect students’ grades. Excerpts from the manual are below. What do you think of the policies? This seems kind of huge to me.

Marking period grades will be based solely on achievement of course and grade-level standards. Classroom conduct, work completion, and ability to work with others will be reported separately using the BCPS Skills and Conduct Indicators.

new gradingBCPS believes it is important that teachers provide students with ongoing feedback on their academic achievement and behavior. However, when both types of information are combined into one grade, the grade becomes distorted, making it difficult to determine from the grade exactly what a student knows and is able to do in relation to the standards. Turning work in on time, behaving appropriately, participating in discussions, and working cooperatively with adults and peers are all very important skills necessary to be successful in college and career. However, they do not assess the actual learning. 

Student behavior and work ethic are critical components to students’ growth as young learners; however, these skills will not be considered in the achievement grade.

Starting in 2016–2017, classroom conduct, work completion, and ability to work with others will be reported in a separate section of the report card, using the BCPS Skills and Conduct Indicators. Student behavior and work ethic are critical components to students’ growth as young learners; however, these skills will not be considered in the achievement grade. Inclusion of behaviors in the achievement grade has been shown to have a negative impact on student motivation and prohibits maximum learning of content (O’Conner, 2009).

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 1.09.49 PMBCPS also believes penalizing students for late or missing work is not a practice that promotes learning. Recording a zero on a student’s assignment will not motivate the student to work harder or learn content at a higher or faster rate (O’Conner, 2009). While BCPS curriculum guides suggest a standard pacing of instruction, penalizing a student for requiring more time, support, or resources to master a standard or learning goal is contrary to differentiation, customization, personalization, and best practices in teaching and learning. The purpose of teaching is to increase learning; therefore, consequences for not turning in an assignment cannot immediately include issuing a zero and absolving the student from demonstrating understanding.

The purpose of teaching is to increase learning; therefore, consequences for not turning in an assignment cannot immediately include issuing a zero and absolving the student from demonstrating understanding. 

The consequence for a student not turning in an assignment should be to require the student to complete the assignment (in accordance with established procedures). The teacher may enter an (I) for Incomplete or Insufficient Evidence in the BCPS One Learning Management System (LMS) and then require the student to complete the work. Failure to complete and hand in assignments on time should be recorded on the report card, using the BCPS Skills and Conduct Indicators on the following page.

Role of Homework 

Homework is a very important part of teaching, learning, and parent involvement*. The goal is to provide quality assignments that enrich students’ experiences. Homework assignments must be meaningful and aligned to learning standards. Students should have a clear understanding of the purpose of their homework and be able to see a clear and direct connection between their homework, the standards, and the end-of-unit assessments.

Homework assignments provide students with an additional opportunity to practice, deepen their understanding, and/or increase progress toward meeting standards and expectations, and should be viewed as part of the formative assessment process. Like other forms of formative assessment, the results from homework should be used to provide feedback, and the scores should be entered as a nongraded assignment in the BCPS One LMS. Using homework as formative assessment also means the results of the assignment or activity have an instructional impact.

* Many studies say homework is, in fact, not important. For instance: 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2012/11/26/homework-an-unnecessary-evil-surprising-findings-from-new-research/

You can read the full BCPS manual here.

-Kristine Henry
-Kristine Henry
News tip? Story idea? We'd love to hear from you! info@towsonflyer.com

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5 Comments on "Homework and behavior won’t affect grades under new BCPS policy"

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Debbie

This no homework policy is ridiculous. I agree BCPS system cherry-picks studies that support their misguided goals. I’m a RN with a bachelors degree I got 40 years ago. I wouldn’t be the skilled & knowledgable nurse I am if it weren’t for homework. My daughter is a Senior at Towson H.S. & wants to be a doctor. This policy is going to affect her GPA, potential scholarship money & getting admitted into college. Homework is a vital part of learning, it is academically beneficial & a standard that cannot be disposed of.

Debbie

Homework is necessary. It is a HUGE part of learning. Students of any age can’t grasp subject matter from class room instruction alone, retain it & later pass a test. It can’t be done. Homework is absolutely needed. I’m a RN, with a Bachelors Degree, homework was a HUGE component of my nursing curriculum and my homework counted as a grade. I graduated 40 years ago and I wouldn’t be the skilled & knowlegable nurse that I am without doing my homework. My daughter is a Senior at Towson H.S. & wants to be a doctor. BCPS annouces on 8/23/16 this new NO homework policy. My daughter’s GPA, potential scholarship money & getting accepted into colleges she’ll be applying to will be affected if homework isn’t counted as a grade. If kids elect to not do their homework- fine it isn’t counted against them but the kids, like mine, that does her homework, her homework is graded. She’s getting screwed over by this new policy!

BCPS parent

I do not like this change. Not penalizing a child for not doing their assignment or not handing it in on time fosters an atmosphere where the child doesn’t value their work. If the teachers don’t care if I hand it in, then why should I? That is the attitude that will result from this. They are children. Not adults.
Homework supports what the child learns in class. It reinforces it. It makes sense for chilren to to come home and complete homework. Parents are also there to provide support and in the cases where they are not, kids are allowed to get help after or before school.
Children don’t only learn math and reading and science in school. They also learn about responsibility. This will take away from that. I’m all for new innovative ideas that make sense. This isn’t one of them.

A very concerned parent
A very concerned parent

While there are some good ideas here–and busy-work homework can be a bane–the primary problematic change is the lack of real deadlines for homework or assignments. Not turning things in on time, with a few exceptions for emergencies, will do nothing for a student’s college or career readiness. College papers cannot be turned in late. Nor can office work or construction projects. Instead, if a student or individual is struggling, help can be given by real instructors. BCPS is adept at cherry-picking studies that support their goals only. Look up others. Here is one that offers some balance, showing the benefits of homework, as well as other related studies. http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/99/the-value-of-homework-is-homework-an-important-tool-for-learning-in-the-classroom

Debbie

You are absolutely right.

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