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Written by Carla Mayfield, JR/SR High Language Arts   

Addressing late work in a positive way

Holyoke Junior and Senior High School’s Grading Pilot Program should prove interesting, enlightening and most important of all, beneficial to the education of our students.

Why do educators make so many changes, anyway? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, that’s not exactly how educators approach the subject. Most of us spend a great deal of time and effort trying to be exactly the thing each of our students needs us to be in order to achieve educational success.

Experience shows us that most of the students who make D’s or F’s in our classes are not actually receiving those grades for work turned in, they are simply not turning the work in at all. Those grades are then entered into the grade book as zeros and quickly add up to a failing grade.

Why not help all students complete and turn in the work assigned to them? Why not put our money where our mouths are and make it clear to our students that the assignments they get are valuable and necessary for their academic success?

That’s exactly what we will be doing with the grading pilot this year. We are refusing to allow Holyoke students to choose to fail. Every student in our school is important, and their academic future is in our hands. We don’t take that lightly. Our plan is to be there, after school, Monday through Thursday, to make sure our students are held accountable for their education and thereby help them achieve academic success.

For students who completed an assignment and earned a 69 percent or lower, it is our feeling that some re-teaching must occur. Sometimes these low grades are earned because a student simply didn’t put in the effort necessary to achieve a passing grade, or they had an off day. That’s just fine. None of us are perfect every day, and we’ll be there after school to help that student achieve success with a second try.

Other students simply did not master the material. This can happen for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes the teacher was not on her game, and the lesson was not accessible for all students in the class. Other times, the student just struggles with the material, even if everyone else in the class “got it” right away.

In either case, that student deserves a do-over. We’ll sit down with that student and go back over the material together until it is mastered.

Those teachers in the grading pilot program are hopeful that we will increase the number of Holyoke students achieving academic success. We look forward to the positive impact good grades will have on students’ feelings about school.

Success breeds success. We believe that by encouraging students to earn passing grades they will understand that they are capable of “doing school.” We knew they could all along.

Holyoke Enterprise June 30, 2011