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The student shuffle
Families still face redistricting, grading scale shift
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Forsyth County News

The end of what has been a contentious process for school officials and parents this year could come in about two months, and a non-traditional grading scale will have a new name this year.

During a special called meeting Thursday the Forsyth County Board of Education unanimously approved a schedule for finalizing the redistricting process.

School officials have outlined dates for discussions, changes to the fourth draft of the redistricting map and consideration of feedback leading up to a decision that could come Oct. 16.

The district plans to open one middle, one high and three elementary schools in 2009. The new facilities will shift thousands of students to new learning environments.

For example, plans call for students in the Creekside community, which has been redistricted five consecutive times, to move to Whitlow Elementary, Otwell Middle and Forsyth Central High.

Earlier this year, the board delayed their decision on the final draft of the redistricting map until after the start of the 2008-09 school year to allow for a more accurate count of student enrollment.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, board members discussed the standards-based grading scale, now known as Grade Plus.
Fourth-graders at six Forsyth County elementary schools will participate this year in the pilot project, which was recently expanded from a three-point to a four-point scale. 

First- through third-graders at all county elementary schools are measured on a three-point scale.

Parents will receive dual report cards reflecting traditional grades as well as Grade Plus scores.

In a presentation to the board, Associate Superintendent Lissa Pijanowski and Elementary Education Director Fonda Harrison explained how Grade Plus works.

Harrison said teachers will provide regular evaluations to gauge their students’ performance through two types of assessments — formative and summative.

Formative assessments and observations will measure daily progress.

Summative assessments are cumulative with several standards included for students to master.

The formative assessments involve students being given both traditional numeric grades and Grade Plus scores for those assignments.

For example, students who score 95 to 100 percent on an assignment will receive a 4.

“Four is mastery, but it gives the opportunity for them to miss a question here or there and still have mastered that standard,” Harrison said.

“Teachers will actually record both the percentage grade and they will also assign a 1,2,3,4.”

Summative evaluations will be made four or five times per grading period, Harrison said.

“Those assessments will receive only a traditional numeric grade,” she said.

“These will be sent home and parents will have access to them online as well as in a paper format.” 

Teachers will assign a traditional numeric grade and Grade Plus score for both types of assessments, she said.

The board is scheduled to meet again at 6 p.m. Thursday.