12,000 Omaha students test harder grading scale

Posted September 12

— Omaha Public Schools is testing a new grading scale makes it harder to pass a class.

About 12,000 elementary, middle and high school students across all schools in the district will participate in the field test, the Omaha World-Herald ( ) reported.

The district's standards-based grading system has been changed several times since a shaky rollout in 2010 confused teachers, parents and students.

The district has sent letters home and emailed all families in the district, as well as compiled brochures, videos and other materials. Staff, parents and students will be able to provide feedback throughout the semester that could determine whether the district decides to adopt the adjusted grading scale for the 2017-2018 school year.

A committee of teachers and administrators devised the new scale, which should require students to work harder to get a top grade or pass a class.

"That was really key to us, ensuring rigor in our grading practices," said ReNae Kehrberg, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

Teachers and parents have complained that the current scale is too easy and has too many loopholes that allow students to get a passing grade without putting in much work.

Under the current system, the scale translates to letter grades — 0 to 0.75 equals an F. At the other end of the scale, 3.01 to a 4 translates to an A. In the new scale being tested, the bottom of the scale is 0 to 1.00 for an F, and at the top, 3.26 to 4 equals an A.

Omaha Education Association teachers' union president Bridget Donovan said some teachers would've preferred more aggressive, immediate changes, but that the field test is a step in the right direction.

"On that old scale, without a doubt, there's very strong feelings that something needed to be done," she said.


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