Virginia Beach school board votes to change grading policy

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - The school board voted 9-2 to change its grading policy on Wednesday night.

The change directs each school to develop how to grade in each grade level, department, or specialized course.

Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence says teachers will now talk among themselves at each school to find a consensus on grading. "The idea is to create a little more bit more consistency," he said.

Spence gave an example of one ninth grade English student submitting an assignment late and getting a zero, but another turns in an assignment late to a different teacher and only has a few points deducted. Spence called that "a little bit different of a grading experience between those two children and we don't think that's reasonable."

Previously, individual teachers or principals were deciding the grading policies and there wasn't consistency between classrooms at the same schools. "We've got to allow our teachers to have that dialogue to figure out what's the best thing for their students in their schools," Spence said.

Four school board candidates spoke against the change before the vote, worrying it will allow late work to become acceptable. "We need to be preparing our students for life in college and the workforce," said Victoria Manning, one of the candidates. "These policies will set up our students for failure."

Most of the school board members say this will help students. "I know that this is not a perfect situation, but where we are now with every teacher doing their own, closing their door, and doing their own thing is certainly not where we want to be either," said Beverly Anderson, one of the members.

The changes will take effect during the 2017-2018 school year. Teachers and school staff will spend this school year going through guidelines to determine the best way to grade.