June 15, 1995 in City

A, B, C To Return In The Fall School Board Votes To Change Back To Letter Grading

Carla K. Johnson Staff writer
 

Letter grades will make a comeback next fall on older elementary students’ report cards in Spokane School District 81.

Granting the wishes of many parents and teachers, the school board on Wednesday restored A’s, B’s and C’s for kids in grades 4-6.

“I am delighted with this recommendation. I feel this progress report is user-friendly,” said board member Carol Wendle, a former teacher who pushed hardest for bringing back letter grades.

Letter grades may be back, but no child will get a D or an F.

The grade M will signify a child not working up to grade level in a subject. The grade U will mean a child has ability, but isn’t doing the work.

The district dropped letter grades in 1992, sparking a classic clash between politics and educational trends.

Even now, many principals and district officials believe philosophically letter grades are outdated.

But the public disagreed with the new numbering system in which students could get the top grade of 1 as long as they met their personal goals.

Some parents mourned the demise of the honor roll as a motivator for achievement.

Surveys found many teachers didn’t like the new non-competitive system for marking a student’s progress. Some felt frustration because they had no way to show a child was working below grade level.

Middle school teachers told of seventh-graders shocked to get their first B’s and C’s because they thought they were high achievers.

A committee of teachers, administrators and school board members made the recommendation after hashing out the issue since December.

“More than ever we have to be connected with our community,” said district Curriculum Director Nancy Stowell.

The pendulum on grades has taken dizzying swings over the decades. Following trends, Spokane schools dropped letter grades in 1947 and brought them back in 1962.

The most recent abandonment began with a suggestion in a report in 1989.

That was followed by a prototype of a new report card in 1990, a pilot project in 16 schools in 1991 and the official expansion to all 35 elementary schools in 1992.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo Graphic: Letter grades return

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: LETTER GRADES RETURN Spokane School District decided Wednesday to return to letter grades for children in 4th through 6th grades. A Proficiency level for work of 90 to 100 percent B Proficiency level for work of 80 to 89 percent C Proficiency level for work of 70 to 79 percent M Student made progress, but not working at grade level (teacher must explain in writing) U Student has potential and ability but not performing (requires parent conference)

Work habits, social growth and specific academic skills grading: + Very good S Satisfactory N Needs improvement X Not assessed Source: Spokane School District Staff graphic

This sidebar appeared with the story: LETTER GRADES RETURN Spokane School District decided Wednesday to return to letter grades for children in 4th through 6th grades. A Proficiency level for work of 90 to 100 percent B Proficiency level for work of 80 to 89 percent C Proficiency level for work of 70 to 79 percent M Student made progress, but not working at grade level (teacher must explain in writing) U Student has potential and ability but not performing (requires parent conference)

Work habits, social growth and specific academic skills grading: + Very good S Satisfactory N Needs improvement X Not assessed Source: Spokane School District Staff graphic

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