Tuesday was the start of exam week in DISD high schools, and administration is furiously trying to figure out just exactly what that means. Apparently someone forgot to address the policy changes needed to accommodate STARR/EOC and ACP high school students in determining both their semester and their final course grades.
If the district followed the Local policy, developed in February of 2012, we would be using EOCs and ACPs as 15% of the final course grade, except that the TEA has deferred implementation of the requirement that EOC tests count toward final grades. Even if we did, nowhere in policy does it say how semester grades in EOC courses are computed. If we follow non EOC course guidelines, the EOC would count twice in the final grade, once as a final exam grade and again as 15% of the second semester grade. Did they really plan to count EOCs twice?
Local Policy keeps referring to the Superintendent developed Regulation Policy, as if that is going to explain this train wreck. Well, hold your breath; Regulation Policy on Grading was last modified in January of 2011, a year before Local Policy was changed to accommodate state law.
Apparently Policy isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on and administration finally figured that out. Last week, on Wednesday, high school test administrators were told the new rules. For all classes without ACP’s, the final exam grade will not be derived from an actual final exam but will be an average of the 3 six weeks grades for the second semester. Final exams which had been developed by teachers, printed, and studied for, are now to be counted as the sixth six week test, and “will only be used if [it] positively impact[s] the student’s overall average for the last six weeks,” according to the power point presentation.
As teacher Diane Birdwell pointed out in a speech to trustees at the May 23 Board Meeting, changing the rules at this late date is not only disrespectful to teachers, but deceitful to students and parents. Are teachers supposed to tell students that, as Ms. Birdwell points out, “they aren’t REALLY final exams?” Oh, and if you don’t do well it won’t count? If a student was hoping that a major end of the year effort on their final would bring up their average, well, too bad, that’s not possible. In fact, if a student had a lackluster six weeks grade earlier in the semester, that poor grade will haunt the poor kid twice, once when averaged in as a semester grade, and again when averaged into the final exam grade.
This administration is spending so much time and effort making sure that the required number of spot observations are done, that thumbs are up and crayons are collected, that the really important stuff, like how students are graded, is an afterthought. Parents and students should be furious. Call your trustee. Ask them to explain the policy that led to this mess.
Don’t bother asking DISD administration. They are still looking.