New school year brings new grading guidelines in Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WAVY) — A new school year brings with it new grading guidelines for middle and high school students in Virginia Beach.

The policy affects things like late work, zeros and extra credit for middle and high school students.

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After a year of sometimes controversial public discussion, the Superintendent told 10 On Your Side, teachers discussed and devised a policy with more consistency.

Dr. Aaron Spence explained that it puts students in the same school on a more even playing field. “Frankly, if you were a 9th grade English student and your best friend was a 9th grade English student and you got different teachers, you might be allowed to turn it (late work) in by the end of the semester and get a grade on it; your friend might have gotten a zero first day it was late.” Now Dr. Spence says all teachers in the same school have agreed to the same rules.

There are some rules all schools must follow. They are:

  • Homework can’t count for more than 10% of the student’s overall grade
  • Extra credit is to be used sparingly and fairly
  • No one gets a zero the first time

Dr. Spence told WAVY.com, “There’s been all this conversation and concern about lack of accountability and lack of concern about student performance and all I would say is show me that in our numbers.”

Dr. Aaron Spence, superintendent of Virginia Beach city schools. (WAVY 10 Photo.)

He points to recent successes in the school district including higher SOL scores and graduation rates and 100 percent accreditation.

10 On Your Side also asked Dr. Spence about a proposal to do away with class rank in the city’s high schools. He said, “If we create a system that promotes winning and losing then by nature we have winners and losers; we can’t have losers, we expect 100 percent graduation.”

This year the school district is looking at possibly doing away with class rank and traditional valedictorian. This comes after complaints by some that students in the academies, which include International Baccalaureate  and the Governor’s STEM and Technology Academy, earn higher GPAs because their classes are weighted.
That makes it impossible for others to finish in the top of their class.

The superintendent said no matter what they decide they won’t change the game midway through. Dr. Spence said it would start with an incoming freshman class and might resemble a Latin honors system using phrases like “Magna Cum Laude” to indicate a level of academic distinction.

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