Editorial: Communication is key for new grading policy

Starting with the 2012-2013 school year, the Coos Bay School District will begin implementing changes mandated by Oregon House Bill 2220. HB 2220 requires all Oregon public schools to grade students strictly on whether or not they meet various state standards, also known as Common Core Standards, in each subject in order to ensure each student has a firm grasp on the material before he or she continues to the next level. This system will obviously require drastic and certainly complicated changes. In order to minimize potential harm over the next few years, the district must be diligent in effectively communicating procedure and expectations to all parties involved.

There has been confusion and some turbulence regarding the new policy, as many believe they have not been sufficiently informed. Part of this is due to the law being a work in progress for the state, but keeping all involved up-to-date as decisions are made is essential for preparation for the next school year. Instructions on how to implement these changes are obviously crucial as well. Changes at MHS over the last year have been much more difficult than necessary due to lack of communication. Teachers cannot implement a new system of grading if they have not been given the tools to do so; students cannot be successful if they do not know requirements; and parents cannot help their children if they do not know how to. Communication is a vital skill has not been utilized well thus far.

While proficiency based grading may have great long-term benefits, there is also a large potential for discrepancy and short-term harm during the next few years of transitioning. It may not be the most popular policy, but state law makes these changes inevitable. In order to minimize harm, the district must give clear instruction and remain consistent. This may be difficult, but effective communication will make the process of implementing HB 2220 much smoother.