New 4×4 “grade check” compromise avoids negatively affecting sport eligibility

Photo courtesy of Saddleback High School

The new 4×4 schedule has brought on many changes to how we operate at RB High. Among these changes includes the new system of distributing progress reports in which students only receive a notice if they have a C grade or below in any class.

Some students have expressed concern about this system because distributing progress reports only to select students singles them out in front of their peers.

Although this new system may seem awkward and embarrassing to some students, the system ultimately helps many students because it avoids creating an unnecessary grading period just four weeks into the quarter which could potentially negatively affect students’ eligibility to participate in certain programs.

Some may argue that the school could just pass progress reports out to all students to avoid creating an awkward situation, but this system creates an official grading period, which could harm some students’ eligibility for participation in sports. Principal David LeMaster expressed his reasoning for choosing a “grade check” over an official grading period.

“In a 4×4 schedule, the midpoint is 4 weeks, and at that point it’s too early to give students an official grade,” LeMaster said. “As soon as we give all kids grades, it becomes an official grading period.”

On the semester schedule, grading periods were placed at six, 12, and 18 weeks, far enough into the year to more accurately judge a student’s’ progress. At just four weeks, some teachers may have only two or three assignments in the grade book, which isn’t enough to tell how a student truly stands in that class.

In order to be eligible for activities such as sports teams at RB High, students must have at least a 2.0 GPA, and so the new style of giving a “grade check” to students in danger of failing classes rather than a progress report to all students avoids possibly making some students ineligible for sports because of a class that they could have an A in just a couple of weeks later.

Now on the 4×4, students’ eligibility is evaluated at the nine-week mark, or the end of the quarter, giving students a more accurate portrayal of their grades.

Some may wonder why the school can’t simply not give reports at all. Poway Unified School District states in Article 3.0 Section 3.6.3 of the PUSD Board Policy and Procedures that “Because a “C” grade or better is needed for credit in terms of admission to college-level work upon graduation, high schools will send progress reports to all students with a grade of C or lower at progress reporting times.”

This means that high schools like RB High in the PUSD system are required to distribute notices to students in danger of failing any class. Since RB High needs to distribute notices but cannot give grades to the whole school in order to avoid an official grading period, the administration compromised by creating the “grade check” system.

“It accomplishes a couple different things without making an official grading period, thus not affecting student eligibility,” LeMaster said. The compromise of a “grade check” attempts to eliminate the possibility of making students who probably deserve to play their favorite sport ineligible because of an early grading period.

Although the “grade check” system is helpful to many students, it could create awkward situations for students in the classroom because only select students receive reports; RB High’s administration has realized this, and they attempted to find a solution so that teachers could eliminate any discomfort in the distribution of reports.

“One suggestion was made to pull students aside one-on-one; another way to do it would be to slip them in with the process of handing back other papers; another idea was to print progress reports for the individual class and hand those out with the reports,” LeMaster said. “So there were quite a few different ways we discussed.”

LeMaster said that the most important part of this brainstorming session was to find a way to distribute the necessary reports while still honoring and respecting the privacy of student grades.

I waited until my kids were working on a project and delivered them individually. Not a big deal…besides, the kids all knew what was going on so it really wasn’t an issue,” AP US Government teacher Jeff Carpenter said. He still, however, acknowledged the fact that there is no perfect solution or right answer to the best way to handle distributing reports to select students.

The administration strives to make its students comfortable and drive them towards success. The new “grade check” system seems as if it may be an uncomfortable and inconvenient way to notify students of their grades; however, the new system aims to help students avoid being tied to a grade that may not truly reflect their progress in a class.


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