Extra credit, graded homework no longer exist for middle school - WSMV Channel 4

Extra credit, graded homework no longer exist for middle schoolers

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

There's a big change to the way middle school students are graded at Metro schools, and it's causing some confusion.

Extra credit and grading homework are now things of the past and the goal is to improve Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) scores.

One example is if you take your driver's license test and fail, you can study more, learn what you need and come back and take it again.

That's the same concept that is being used in middle schools to make sure students are actually learning the standards.

In an eighth-grade Spanish class at JFK Middle School, mastery of the standards is the key.

"I think it's very important that students know what the objective is, what is expected of them and what should be learned," said JFK Middle School Principal Sam Braden.

That's why all Metro middle schools have gone to the new grading system.

The goal is to make sure grades are reflecting a student's true knowledge of the material and it's a big change.

"We want students to have opportunities to show mastery, which means they might have multiple opportunities to show mastery on a particular standard," said Amy Downey of Metro Schools.

So what does that look like?

First of all, there's no more extra credit, but grades also won't be docked for behavioral issues.

Homework is designed to be practice and not something for a grade. If a student doesn't do well on a test, they'll have an opportunity to take it again.

"We are allowing students who may not do well on an assessment to have an opportunity for more practice, to have more intervention with teachers to go back and say, 'I learned something different from the first time to the second time. My mastery level is higher,'" Downey said.

The new system has led to concerns about accountability.

The district said it's actually more work, not less, because if a student doesn't understand the concept, they will have to do more until they understand.

Braden said he's heard concerns but believes this is a way to make sure these students are fully prepared for TCAPs and for the future.

"The teachers and the students so far have been giving positive feedback," Braden said.

The new grading system was developed after a year of study and piloting in a few new schools.

The district said they know it's a complete culture change for parents and teachers.

Braden said he's had to answer questions about not grading homework, but after an explanation he said most parents agree with the program.

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