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The Pioneer

WOHS Implements New Policy

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WEST ORANGE, Nj — As of Sep. 2017, the West Orange Board Of Education (WOBOE) implemented a new grading policy for West Orange High School (WOHS). This new policy replaces quarterlies, midterms and finals with performance based assessments (PBAs). Depending on the curriculum, a PBA can be a project, an essay — anything that allows a teacher to assess how well a student can work independently to show what he or she has learned.

PBAs are worth 15% of the final grade average, while major products, assessments and projects are worth 55%. What is categorized as independent, guided practice or, assignments that check for understanding are worth 20% and homework is worth 10%. This new policy has been a drastic change for some teachers and students, while others seem unaffected.  Many students and teachers admitted that they do not fully understand the policy.Sophia Raines

Mark Robertson issued a statement to The Pioneer explaining his position on the grading policy, but he was clear that his opinions were his own and that he was not necessarily representing the views of his fellow BOE members.

In his statement, Robertson writes that the policy “establishes a standardized grading rubric within and across all courses of high school study.”

Robertson also believes the policy provides “several advantages for students, teachers, supervisors and WOHS” because the policy will give them something to turn to when grading or evaluating “as the District’s flagship brand.”

Robertson indicated that the standardization of grading will ensure consistency and fairness for the students and teachers. He also believes the consistent rubric will empower students because they will know exactly what is expected of them in every course.

Robertson feels the standardization of grading while maintaining rigor “enhances the credibility and stature of grades” because the possibility of grade inflation to both administrators and colleges is now dispelled.

While Robertson is all for the policy many students feel the policy is actually hurting their grade point average (GPA). Maxine Nzegwu, a senior at WOHS, mentioned that she relied on homework to help bring her grade up because while she tries in classes, sometimes she does not test as well.

However, senior, salutatorian, Aion Ashby enjoys the new policy because it requires less studying for big tests such as quarterlies and makes it easier to manage time.

In addition, some teachers are impartial to the grading policy or feel that it is actually harming students.

Contrary to Ashby, one anonymous teacher feels that the elimination of quarterlies or major assessments such as midterms and finals does a poor job preparing students for college because in college they are going to need to know how to study a large amount of information in a short period of time.

Robertson stated that “as with any new initiative, we must get feedback from teachers, supervisors and students, next year to evaluate the strengths and areas for improvement in the Grading Profile.”

How the WOBOE plans to obtain that information was not explained to The Pioneer. The Pioneer reached out to the Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Eveny DeMendez, however, she did not respond to our emails.

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