Before each teacher entered the Bison Room during their preps on Thursday, they were given an article, “Grading Practices: The Third Rail”, detailing the rationale behind Minnetonka’s new grading system; changes like doing away with the point system, percentage scale, behavioral demerits, and less extra credit have severely changed the way students approach school.
According to the article, the teachers read, “It is incumbent on educators to ensure that grading and assessment practices give students chances to succeed. Lethal grading practices can harm students and set them on a course for failure?”
Grades in Minnetonka are now determined by what a student “masters,” and rely largely on tests and in-class assignments. This new method was met with some skepticism from BHS teachers, stating it doesn’t deal with the core values that a student learns while in a school setting, and merely focuses on what someone ‘knows.’
“It [Minnetonka grading system] is narrow in content,” said English Teacher Joel Squadroni, “It doesn’t deal with honesty, respect, contribution, it just grades what someone knows. I guess I’m old-fashioned but I still think things like integrity and respect are just as important to teach.”
Some teachers thought that it discipline factored out of the grading system was a poor choice.
“It’s kind of saying ‘let’s just give everyone a hug,’” said Art Teacher Jon Holtz, “I mean, where did that get us?”
Others were unsure of the new changes in Minnetonka.
“Are we lowering the standards?” said Social Studies Tracy Hulley, “I mean, we certainly don’t want students to lose hope, I guess I just don’t know.”
Some teachers were less than willing to discuss the new changes implemented in schools around the nation. This is due to the fact that discussing grades can be one of the most controversial of subjects in an educational environment due to the emotional connection a teacher has with how he or she grades.
“I think grading is an extension of a personality,” said Squadroni, ”and when someone tells you that their grading system isn’t valid, it’s more of an attack on a personal attachment. I’m certainly not afraid of new grading systems, there are plenty of interesting things Minnetonka is doing that I would love to try.”