Last Thursday, Revere High School Principal Dr. John Perella hosted the first in a series of Webinar community meetings that he said will be held bi-montly going forward.
“These meetings going forward will be bi-monthly,” said Perella. “One of the things we intend to do going forward is to reach out to family and students to provide much more clarity and much more information (throughout the school year).”
Perella said that while the COVID-19 pandemic has created more challenges compared to a traditional school year, he said Revere High School has been off to a great start despite these challenges.
“So far we are very happy with the way things are going,” he said.
One of the main topics that was highlighted during the virtual community meeting was assessing and grading at RHS during the 2020/2021 school year.
During the meeting, Perella said RHS is exploring a switch from the traditional letter grading system to a more modern ‘standards-based’ grading system that is being used in Revere’s elementary schools, middle schools as well as numerous school districts across the state.
Standards-based grading (SBG) is an intentional way for teachers to track their students’ progress and achievements while focusing on helping students learn and reach their highest potential. It is based on students showing signs of mastery or understanding various lessons and skills. Standards-based grading is a way to view student progress based on proficiency levels for identified standards rather than relying on a letter grade that represents the sole measure of achievement.
“This is a really important topic that is critical to students, teachers and parents,” said Perella. “We all take for granted the traditional grading system but it is really important to ground the discussion around the fact we are using a system from a time period that is very different in the time period we are living in today.”
Perella said traditional letter grading was rooted in early 19th Century education but today puts more emphasis on the grade rather than the actual learning.
“The letter grade, for a longtime, reflects what a student does and how they are successful in school,” said Perella. “This type of system prioritizes the letter grade but does not take into account the stories of students cramming for tests or exams and forgetting everything they learned the moment the test is over. This has been a real concern for us.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit last March and school buildings were closed, RHS Assistant Principal Leah Tuckman said it necessitated a change in the grading system.
Because letter grades are rooted in in-person instruction RHS, said Tuckman, simplified grading to Pass/Not Yet. The switch in grading for last year has now got the ball rolling on switching to SBG for the high school.
While Tuckman said letter grades will still be used at RHS this year, the district is trying to create a bridge system of grading that supports students and teachers but starts to bring the high school into a more modern grading system.
Perella said the topic will be discussed further on October 21 during this month’s second Webinar. During that meeting teachers will give their perspective of the pros and cons of SBG versus traditional grading. Then on Nov. 4 there will be a meeting on the college perspective of SBG versus traditional grading.
“There have been a lot of changes due to COVID,” said Perella. “But this has gotten us to start thinking of where we want to go as a district and what sort of system we want to use to gauge success of students.”