In a proposed shift towards what it calls more “equitable” grading practices, the Arlington School Board wants to make several massive changes to the way student achievement is measured.

The changes would include removing due dates and eliminating grading of homework, unlimited redoes and retakes on assignments, and eliminating extra credit, which the School Board alleges “leads to biased grades and penalizes students with fewer resources.”

But teachers are already pushing back against the proposal, saying that in college and in the workplace there are deadlines that must be met, and teaching students to meet them is critical for preparing them for life after high school.

Wakefield High School teachers sent a letter to the school board and the Arlington Public Schools (APS) Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán, stating their concern about the proposal.

The letter says in part:

As educators with decades of experience in APS, we are extremely concerned with several changes proposed in the new grading and homework policy. We believe that these changes will impact student learning and socio-emotional development and growth in a negative way. The changes, if implemented, will also result in the decline of high expectations and rigor in the classroom across all APS high schools. We agree that homework, summer assignments, summative as well as formative assessments need to be meaningful, engaging, and be clearly communicated/explained to students and their families; however, if proposed changes are implemented, the accountability “piece” of the learning process will exist in theory only.

In the lengthy letter, the teachers also noted two specific concerns about ending due dates.

They said that eliminating deadlines could lead to “a nightmare evaluating scenario for teachers, as submissions are delayed to suit students’ needs,” and noted that their lesson plans are sequential so that one learning topic organically flows into the next, and that if students are allowed to go at their own pace, “it seems logical that doing so would hamper ‘mastery’ moving forward.”

The school board is currently in a question and answer and comment period on the proposal.

It will reportedly decide next steps based on feedback from the community.

The school board was not available for comment Wednesday.

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Pete D’Abrosca is a contributor at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Follow Pete on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Teacher Helping Student” by Arlington Public Schools.