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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.

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