Parents and teachers had complained in recent weeks about the new policies, implemented this school year, that largely replaced F's on first-quarter report cards and gave teachers the option of allowing students to retake tests when they were caught cheating. Friday's reversal surprised many of those who had raised objections.
"People were shocked, elated - hopeful that finally their concerns were being addressed," said Kate Van Dyck, a leader of Real World, Real Grades, which formed in opposition to the policies. "We're pleased that there've been some changes made, but we will continue to monitor this very closely in the future and expect to see opportunities for real community input prior to the implementation of policies."
I can only armchair quarterback here, but my hunch is that this policy, while well-intentioned, was top-down. There are few---and perhaps no---topics more taboo in a school than grading. These things must be done delicately, as Oz's Wicked Witch pointed out.
I don't know that wholesale change at a school or district level is possible with grading---or, if it is, the process is something that evolves and becomes a norm over many years. In between, I think you get a lot of lip service to one while the old practices stay on in an underground sort of way.
What I am finding is that there are lots of highly passionate islands of practice out there. Every week, I learn about a few more teachers who are at least interested in exploring different possibilities with grading and dipping a toe in the waters of change. And as glacial as this process may be, I have decided that I'm okay with that. I think this sort of change needs to be infectious. One enthusiastic teacher in a school will no doubt find another. Again, this isn't speedy...but it is a more sustainable option than mandates.
The longer I have a balcony view of things from a state-level job, the more and more convinced I am that change is really about personal relationships...and all the better if they are one to one and face to face. And the edubeast is so large that it really prohibits these sorts of interactions---except at the teacher-to-teacher level. As much as I would love to sit down and have a beverage with every teacher in the state and kick around topics, it's unlikely that will happen. But, I can support a few who then connect with others. Maybe that's all we need.