The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 15, 2013

Southeast Fountain school board members hear about grading system

The Commercial-News

VEEDERSBURG, Ind. — Southeast Fountain school board members learned Thursday about Standards Based Grading (SBG) at Fountain Central High School.

Kelly Collins and Renee Howell explained to board members how standard based grading is done in their classrooms. Standard based grading: puts the emphasis on students learning skills or concepts, not state standards; grades are dynamic and always changing; and emphasis is placed on learning concepts, not memorizing material just for a test. In her math classroom, Collins uses numbered objectives, has a weekly learning check to determine whether a student needs reassessment, has a cumulative midterm and final with no reassessment. Her students’ grades are figured by 95 percent on learning objectives and 5 percent on other classroom activities such as daily questions or projects.

In Howell’s English classroom, numbered objectives are used, there is a regular test and quiz schedule with a cumulative final, and grades are based 100 percent on learning objectives. Reassessments are student initiated and students must complete an application to have their grade on a learning objective reassessed.

Both teachers emphasized that SBG is not a replacement for quality instruction or proper preparation; a way to reduce teacher workload; an easy transition for students or teachers; and it is not a way to raise student grades. High school Principal Pat Culp said 50 percent of the high school’s teachers are using SBG this year.

In other business, school board members:

+ Approved the retirement request from Mark Harris, a high school Math teacher, effective at the end of the 2013-14 school year.

+ Approved the grant for $750 from the Western Indiana Community Foundation for the Brain Gym workshop at Southeast Fountain elementary school.

+ Declared the purchase of new lighting for the high school gym, auxiliary gym, and pool an emergency. Also, the board approved the three quotes totaling $36,105 from Hall Electric of Attica, Indiana. The scope of work will qualify for the Energizing Indiana Double Rebate of $16,340. Superintendent Doug Allison explained that the lighting was not in need of an emergency replacement, but this is the only way to access the money before it is no longer available and to get the rebate as well.

+ Heard from the cast of "Promedy," the high school’s fall play, that performances will be 7 p.m. EST today and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. EST Sunday. Tickets are $4 for students, $8 for adults, and free to children under 5years old.

+ Heard from parent Kim Kalweit that she would like the school board to consider a revision to the corporation’s policy on head lice. Kalweit said she thinks parents should be notified when a case of lice is discovered in a classroom while still keeping the name of the affected student private. She also would like an immediate check of students in the classroom when lice are found. Another parent said that three of her children caught lice and she had to pay over $300 to totally get rid of the lice.

Nurse Lori Myers explained there are no mass lice checks, because lice are not considered a health issue, but a nuisance. Students who are suspected of having lice are sent to the nurse for a check. If they have lice, the parents are called and the student is sent home. The student is not allowed to ride the school bus the next day and cannot return to the classroom before being checked by the nurse again.

Myers said she performed 981 head checks last school year and found 49 cases of lice. This school year, 51 head checks have been performed and five students have been sent home. If parents cannot afford the medication for lice treatments, they are directed to the county health department for assistance.