05 29 2015

Trustees Look Into New Grading Period

By Julie Vaughan


A presentation on the Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) Report and talks about a proposed nine-week grading period were among the main items discussed during last Monday nights regular Canton ISD board meeting.

The AEIS Report for the 2011-2012 school year was presented prior to the start of the regular board meeting, during a public hearing.

CantonISD Superintendent Jay Tullos said the district does not have results from the STAAR (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness) test that students took last spring and they do not expect results to be released until April 2013.

“The teachers have no idea what they need to work on with students, but the good news is our great teachers know what these students need to work on,” board member Mike Malouf said.

Cantonwas above average compared to the state on performance in all testing areas.

Also, discussed in detail during regular session was a nine-week grading period that both Tullos andCantonHigh SchoolPrincipal Jay Nicks have been looking into for the high school.

Currently students are graded on a six 6-week grading periods, but the newly discussed grading period would be broken down into a four 9-week grading period per school year.

Nicks explained it would provide two grading periods per semester, and progress reports would be sent out at three week and six weeks.

Additionally, Nicks told the board the plan could be used for the high school only, high school and junior high or the entire school.

Neighboring districts that already use the 9-week grading period include Mabank, Wills Point, Kemp and Martins Mill.

Nicks noted that next year, Brownsboro ISD will be switching to the 9-week schedule, and that Lindale,Mineolaand Frankston are considering it for next year.

He said the pros for the grading period are that teachers could spread tests out rather than trying to “cram three into six weeks.” This would give them more instructional time and they would test every three weeks instead of once every two weeks.

It also gives parents warning if students are in danger of failing with two progress reports.

Nicks said students will have more of an opportunity to recover from bad grades with more grades per period.

Also, Nicks said they could run mandatory tutorials based on benchmarks for the first six weeks of each marking period and use the last three weeks to focus on students struggling to pass the class.

Teachers would submit and verify grades four times per year rather than six.

As for eligibility, if students pass the nine-weeks, they are eligible for the next nine weeks.

If they fail the nine-weeks, they have opportunities to gain at three-weeks and six-weeks.

Nicks said the teachers in every department in the school are in favor of the change.

He noted that coach Robert Ivey and band director Rob Toups said the change would not negatively impact their programs.

“Everyone I’ve talked to really likes this,” Nicks said. “There has been minimal negative response…It actually might be beneficial.”

When asked how he felt about the change in the grading system, Nicks said, “I’m highly in favor of it.”

He noted the only cons for the change would be that if a student fails a grading period, they only have one other grading period to average with to bring up their semester average.

Also, with eligibility, at the beginning of the year, teachers have to check grades for no-pass, no-play after the first six weeks. Then, they will also have a grading period at the nine-week mark that counts for eligibility.

After that point, it all works on a nine-week basis. They would have to communicate to teachers, parents, and students and the first six-week progress report counts for eligibility.

No action was taken following discussion.

In other business:

-approved the Key Points for Legislative Session which were presented by Tullos.

He told the board that after meeting with other superintendents in District 2 (Hopkins andHuntcountyincluded) they took key issues that need to be resolved in the upcoming Legislative Session to be adopted by each school board and presented them to State Representative Dan Flynn.

Those key points included funding, accountability and assessment, Teacher Retirement System (TRS) and voucher programs.

The funding includes voting in favor of a state revenue system for public education that, without regard to short-term economic trends, will provide an equitable and adequate education of all students.

They ask for revising the accountability and assessment system to a less punitive testing system.

Itfurther requests a vote in favor of maintaining defined benefit programs, without reducing TRS benefits.

Also, a vote in opposition of any type of voucher program or taxpayer saving grant that does not have 100 percent of the accountability standards and bureaucracy that public schools must follow.

-approved the annual financial audit report from Rutherford, Taylor & Company, P.C. for the year that ended August 31, 2012.

The auditor gave the district a “clean audit” with an “unqualified option.” Stating “there is no negative concerns.”

-during his superintendent’s report, Tullos touched on numerous subjects including the replacement of the field turf at the high school football field.

He noted the turf is still under warranty.

Additionally, he informed the board about land clearing on the property between the high school baseball fields and the intermediate school.

He also reminded the board of an Education Foundation fundraiser set for 6:30 p.m. on January 19 at the Farm Bureau.

-approved the consent agenda which included the November 19 minutes and financial reports which included financial status, budget status and tax collection reports.


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