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Students returned to school this week after the winter break to start a new semester and a new year, with a few changes, both immediate and on the horizon. At a working session and special meeting at the beginning of the Christmas break, the school board discussed and approved shifting away from the traditional grading model and adopting the equitable grading model. This would be used for middle and high school grading and would be effective for the second semester, just underway, of the current school year.

The model, as discussed in the last regular board meeting, December 14, assigns a point value for grades A through F, with 90-100 being an A, and falling by ten-point steps with 50-59 being an F. This differs from the traditional model that scales an F grade as 0-59. In doing this, it makes the gap equal between grades. For example, to raise a C to a B requires ten points, so to does raising a grade of F to a D also requires ten points. The equitable grading model has been gaining traction in school districts across the country. School from those in Las Cruces and San Diego, to Tennessee and Texas have adopted it.

The equitable grading model considers addresses the traditional model’s inequities, where 60 percent of the grading scale is set for failure. The alternative that the equitable model provides is a system where each letter grade, A-F has a balanced ten percent weight. In the traditional model, a single zero can make achieving a passing grade almost impossible, regardless the level of other work performed. Though an F is still an F and a student would still need to work, applying themselves to raise it. Even

It has at least two primary purposes. In our district it can be used as a temporary model, as we transition into a grading system for the district that is learning based rather than testing based, as has been the growing tendency over many years.

The second primary purpose for this step is as part of a strategy to help students survive the unique challenges and roadblocks that this year’s public health restrictions have placed in their way by upending the way conducting education has been temporarily forced to change.

Much as businesses have had to adapt, creating new models, procedures and ways of providing services in order to survive, so to the district is examining strategies to help students to survive and even thrive in this unique year.

Though the students of our district are performing at a higher level than the state average, the pitfalls faced are still great. Remote learning is something many students find extremely challenging for a wide variety of reasons. Access to technology and internet connectivity is uneven, as are such diverse things as family support, technical abilities and even physical workspace.

The school board and administration is united in their assessment that the best solution is for all students to be able to return to in school learning as soon as it is possible.

OTHER SCHOOL NEWS

•The school board had voted for a proposal to return from the Christmas break with two weeks of full remote learning, in an abundance of caution to account for large family gatherings and possible travel. The position was later adopted statewide will allow students grades kindergarten through fifth, to return to the hybrid plan on January 19. At that time students of all grades who have an individualized education program and certain other students to work with teachers in-school in groups of five to one. It will also make the resource rooms at each school again available to students. At that time athletic training and practice can resume, also in pods of five athletes to one coach.

•Hot Springs Physical Therapy announced: “We know these are trying times. We are delighted to inform everyone that we have been given the opportunity to help our Tiger athletes emotionally and physically.

Hot Springs Physical Therapy has received a grant in partnership with Olive Tree to assist athletes, grades 6-12, with mental and physical well-being. For health and safety, classes are small. If your child is interested in this, please call our office at (575) 894-0485 and ask for Jaidyn or Leslie for additional information.”

•The district is still encouraging everyone to participate in an anonymous survey to provide input as they develop the next five-year strategic plan for student success. The survey is open to all community members. Parents, students, teachers and other school staff as well as people with no connection to or affiliation with the schools, all are urged to complete the survey that can be found at the top of the district’s webpage.

•The T-or-C School Board will be holding their next regular meeting on January 11th, 2021, at 5:30 PM. This meeting is completely remote. Please attend via Zoom. Zoom meeting ID: 5581358124 Password: Tigers.

 

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