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Grading system 'broken' or just buggy?

Original post made on May 31, 2013

Steve Uhlir, who began speaking out against aspects of the high school district's new grading policy about six months ago, said he is feels the issue is being "swept under the rug" by school administrators.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 31, 2013, 9:50 AM

Comments (18)

Posted by mom, a resident of Cuesta Park
on May 31, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I haven't noticed any changes in the grading system this year except for the bugs in online gradebook and that the teachers take even longer to enter grades and to correct mistakes.

The "non-academic factors" such as work ethic and attitude make grading even more subjective than ever, and more subjectivity will make grading less consistent between classes.

Posted by Rich, a resident of Blossom Valley
on May 31, 2013 at 4:40 pm

As a parent of a senior this year, I have found the grading system used at MVHS to be horrible, and the changes this year moved it from practically useless to totally useless, at least as implemented by my kid's teachers. To be useful as a tool for learning, grades need to be clearly understandable, immediate feedback, but they were neither. The school gets a big fat F for grading (see, you all understand that...)

Posted by Huh?, a resident of Jackson Park
on May 31, 2013 at 5:01 pm

I don't get it. They convert from these new names into numbers. Is this different than just converting letter grades to numbers? Is there any difference between Advanced and A? If not then who cares what we call it?

How about we just use numbers and forget letters and names?

Posted by Aaron, a resident of Shoreline West
on May 31, 2013 at 5:10 pm

We should keep our education system from being too inflexible for students to learn in their own style.
I have done training for industry and always used a flexible audio, visual and tactile approach. I talk about the subject, use visual aids and get "hands on". I once gave a homework assignment to go to a video arcade to play "Centipede" to learn how to use a trackball. My system works.
Albert Einstein had leaning difficulties except in Math and Physics. Today, Einstein would have probably been placed in a continuation school and we may never have been able to discuss the fate of Schrödinger's cat!

Posted by MVHS parent, a resident of another community
on May 31, 2013 at 10:40 pm

MVHS has had a bumpy road this year- let's hope that the new principal can get the grading policy and behavior policy under control and actually get all of the teachers to consistently be on the same page with both policies.

My MVHS student was super confused by the new grading policy. He was told that all of his teachers would use it, then several didn't. Consequently, in the beginning of the school year, he thought he was getting an A in several classes, only to find out it was a B because some teachers were using their own grading policies. With 6 classes, he probably had 3-4 different grading policies being used by his various teachers. Problematic on many levels and an added stress on students and parents.

Posted by Steve Uhlir, a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm

The grading practice at Mountain View High School is very complicated and confusing.

Let me back up all the way to the board policy. The board policy about grading states that all of the sections of the same class must be graded the same way, even if they are taught by different teachers. That's pretty simple and makes a lot of sense to me.

The grading practice (or, more accurately, practices) that have been implemented at Mountain View High School as a reaction to this policy vary widely. Some parents may have seen no difference because about the only change in some classes is to never record an F grade lower than 50 no matter how poorly a student does on an evaluated task.

Some classes, particularly English classes and also Social Studies classes have made much more changes. They have changed to 20-point ranges (0-20 for F, 20-40 for D, 40-60 for C, 60-80 for B, and 80-100 for A). They have changed the terminology from letter grades to Advanced (exactly the same as A--as asked by "Huh?"), Proficient (B), Basic (C), Below Basic (D), and Fail (F). There have been many claims of how these new labels are better, but, in fact, they make no difference at all.

Further, a grade is entered into Aries as a number that represents the midpoint (approximately) of the range of that grade. So an Advanced+ is entered as 97 (or 96.67 in some classes) and an Advanced is entered as 90.5 (or 90 in some classes) and an Advanced- is entered as 83 (or 83.5 or 83.33). And so on.

So what is the problem with this. One of the best examples in my opinion is to imagine that a student has gotten every single question right on a multiple choice test. This would be scored as 100%. 100% is an Advanced+. The mid-point of Advanced+ is 97 (or 96.67) and that value is entered in Aries. So a student who got everything right loses 3 points in the translation!!! (Yes, a student who got 94% gains 3 points. Over all students it probably averages out. For a particular student it probably does not average out.

I could go on--I have gone on at great lengths at many board meetings (at least 5) and hours with teachers (at least 8). If you have students who are or will be at Mountain View High School I strongly encourage you to really understand the grading practice that has been implemented. (If your reaction to my summary is that they couldn't possibly have done what I've described... I am very sorry to say that I am quite certain I am right--for *some* classes.)


Posted by David, a resident of another community
on Jun 1, 2013 at 3:35 pm

The biggest story about this is that by trying to create consistency, they have about the most inconsistent system imaginable. The issues of the labels is silly. 50 years ago in elementary school we had a grading system of EC, C, S and X with minus possible but not a +. Oh boy, that was so much more logical than A B C and D/F. It really helped my education process. EC stood for especially commendable and S was satisfactory. The labels are a distraction.

The idea of changing the weighting and averaging system by using different values for the various achievement levels compared to tradition is also pretty silly and not needed. It's not really too harmful, but since it is inconsistent then it too is a distraction. To say that this is a problem with the online gradebook is also silly.

Having a conduct/attitude/work ethic grade along with the achievement based academic grade is not an innovation, but having more than one is new. But how do you judge the work ethic of a student for whom the class is easy or boring?

Posted by Wo'O Ideafarm, a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2013 at 10:37 am

Wo\'O Ideafarm is a registered user.

Effort by teachers, administrators, and parents to improve the schooling process is commendable and important. But the key to improving education in the United States is for us to reestablish a society in which women focus on nurturing (in the home and in the community), the men focus on providing for and protecting, and the entire community is focused on investing in the next generation by raising up the children into good, strong men and women.

Without a solid moral foundation, including a sensible and enabling concept of Higher Power, a person is not educatable and all effort and expense to educate such a person will fail.



Posted by the_punnisher, a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 2, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Has anyone thought about what the people think about the inmates of the asylum called modern day Mountain View including the latest insane grading policy?

You just may have added an extra load of college classwork to freshman students who have student advisors forcing students to take " bonehead " classes because the grading " rules " do not fit the traditional grading and % system.
No college admin program is going to take the time to sort out " subjective " grading systems! Your student app just got round-filed...

There always be winners and losers when it comes to being accepted at colleges..Why make acceptance harder than it already is?

If you want to march with your special music, you had better turn around to see if anyone else is marching with you....

Graduate, the ORIGINAL MVHS in 1973.

Posted by Elaine, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 2, 2013 at 9:53 pm

We really want to thank Mr. Uhlir for taking on the thankless task of enlightening parents and the administration about the grading system. He has been doing it in a very honest and professional way. We attended a meeting at MVHS that was supposed to explain the new system and address parent's concerns about it. Mr. Moody did a terrible job of explaining the system and the only one who really shed some light on the subject was Mr. Ulhir. There were many parents in attendance who had the same concern - we have A students who were now earning Bs. And it was an urgent concern because most of us had seniors or juniors - when GPAs are important for college applications.

Somehow administration keeps side stepping parent's concerns. At that meeting, parents suggested they follow up with a survey to parents about the new grading system. Mr. Moody acted like that was a good idea. But instead, as a follow up we received an email saying that the system works and parent's concerns were unfounded. He sited a statistic that there were more As earned in that last quarter than before. But before what?? Who knows what that statistic was based upon. How does that prove it is a better grading system?

Later in the year, after Mr. Moody said a that meeting that parents should bring it to his attention if teachers are not using the new system correctly, we did tell him about our student's experience. He did not show any interest and we received no communication in response to it.

I do hope that the new principal takes more of an active interest in continuing to look into this very controversial grading system. We also hope that Barry Groves, the superintendent, and the board of trustees really take parent's concerns more seriously. There are a few major flaws with the system and they can't just force it upon everyone and expect them to be happy just because the students who were earning Fs are now passing with Ds!! (Which is basically what was pitched to us at the meeting.)

Posted by Fred, a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2013 at 10:05 pm

Is this a new form of Affirmative Action or what? Sounds horrible.

Is the school prepared to fight expensive lawsuits? Subpoenas that may lead to the spill of all kinds of dirty beans? It's bound to happen when disgruntled parents sort to redress perceived unfair treatments of their kids.

That will tarnish the entire school, and cause college admission officers to discount all the students from MVHS. Disaster!!

Posted by Susan, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 3, 2013 at 4:21 pm

This grading issues is one of the mnay problems at MVHS. We have had a weak administration, AD, and no one at the school including teachers and staff feel they can speak up. This is beaause in the land of apples and googles, we have a admin team all the way up to Barry Groves that does not want change and too admit when mistakes have been made. We may have a great music program and great grades but we have a staff, admin and Barry Groves who has taken the easy path. One look at our past AD (John Payne) hired by Kieth Moody and the state he has left our sports programs, funding,etc is an absolute mess! The new principal has a lot of work to do and the first step is to fire all the admin with their closed door and no new ideas attitute! Fix things when broken, step out of the box and make the school an all around school.

Posted by Thomas, a resident of Castro City
on Jun 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm

California went from #1 in education to #47 in academic achievement (by state).
All of USA students are way behind many other countries in academic subjects like basic literacy, reading, science and math.
These new trendy policies are just as pointless in education as anything else.
We just pay far more per student for far less education.

Fortunately, some of our local schools are doing an excellent job of education in spite of trendy curriculum experiments.

Posted by MVHS parent, a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 8:38 am

2013-2014 MVHS Grading issues

One change in this school year is in both English and Social studies.
2013-2014 school year,  90% (A), 80% (B), 70% (C), 60%(D) 
2012-2013 school year   80-100 A, 60-80 B, 40-60 C, 20-40 D, 0-20 F

The differences 60% to 80% (B), 40% to 70% (C), 20% to 60%(D) is a huge change for students to adjust.  Specially for 2014, 2015, 2016 classes.

2nd change in 2013-2014:
2013-2014 school years, all departments using grading procedures :
  90% (A), 80% (B), 70% (C), 60%(D) 50% (F).
And with  method that students will have many chances to retake tests, do corrections on tests and home works for all subjects. Teachers will be responsible that students are relearned.

Even though, the grading procedures is the same 90-80-70-60-50 for all departments this year, under each department the procedure is still different. Huge difference in Math department.

Math Department is using their own procedures this year, cumulate method and NO corrections on tests and home works. Same as last year, many parents have raised the issues, but no change this year still.

Math department was using the grading procedure with cumulate method, such as, test1 grade can be replaced with test2 grade if test2 grade is better. Test2 will include test1 materials, and so on. So, if all 3 tests are not good, but the 4th test is great, then teat1, test2, test3 will be replaced with test4. Test4 will include test1, test2, test3 materials.  There is NO redo on tests, NO corrections on tests and No corrections on home works. No teachers' efforts to confirm students relearned.

This method is different than all other departments. This method sounds great, big rewarding system. However,  there is NO math  teachers' efforts on making sure students relearned materials. Math teachers don't have to grade redo tests or corrections. This method only shows that Math teachers are not willing to spend time on grading redo tests and corrections, and math teachers are not willing to be responsible for students relearning.  This method  Only shows students paying lots of  effort on studying cumulative tests. No teacher's efforts at all.

For all other departments, students receive credit if they do corrections for both tests and home works. Example, the student got 70 points out of 100 on a test,  he/she can receive 15 points if he/she do all correct on test correction. So his/her grade can be changed from C to B for that test.  If student test grade is 50, and with the test correction, the new grade can be 75 points and is C. That shows a lot of teachers' efforts and cares on making sure students relearned the materials, and getting better grade, and be successful. 

I would appreciate that School board can do something to the Math department now, Math department should have same grading procedures as other departments. Be responsible for students relearning. students are able to redo the math tests, and do corrections and math  home works and receive credits. Students haven't done any test corrections, and they still have about two months to do so to get credits for the first semester. 

I would appreciate school board can remove the laws saying each department can have their own grading procedures. It doesn't make any good for unifying the grading procedures. Parents are confusing, same as our students getting extra pressures to adjust different grading procedures from different departments. A message from 10/22 grading meeting, one teacher subject can have his own grading procedures

Mr. Moody sited a statistic that there were more As earned, less Fs as improvement on grading procedures standard for 2012-2013.

What standard will be used for 2013-2014?
Will there be another grading procedure change If  less As, and more Fs?
Class 2015 students have experienced three different grading procedures in three years. 

Posted by MVHS parents cares abut grading procedures, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 9:05 am

Uhlir, who began speaking out against aspects of the new student assessment policy about six months ago, said he is feels the issue is being "swept under the rug" by school administrators.

What he said is true... "swept under the rug". The grading policies change again this year to 90%, 80% ... 50%. However, school board allows each department to decide their own procedures under 90%, 80%.. Grading procedures. Specially in Math department.

Posted by MVHS parents9, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 9:26 am

Susan 6/3/2013... This grading issues is one of the mnay problems at MVHS. We have had a weak administration, AD, and no one at the school including teachers and staff feel they can speak up. This is beaause in the land of apples and googles, we have a admin team all the way up to Barry Groves that does not want change and too admit when mistakes have been made. ...

We can have Steve Uhlir be MVHS admin.

Posted by MVHS parent, a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 24, 2013 at 3:04 pm

The goal of consistent grading is admirable and the district really has my respect for that.

But as everyone has said, the implementation has been a disaster. NO consistency whatsoever from class to class.

Teachers are using all different systems! ABCDF, % of 100, proficiency labels, and worst of all is expressing grades as a percentage of 1. Seeing that my child has .43 in something and .68 in something else, my brain can't process that.

And put the midpoint instead of the actual score?! If my pulse is 73 and my blood pressure is 124 over 77, I can assure you that my health care provider does NOT round off and write 70 and 125/80 on my chart. That's just nuts and students who earned 100% and get 97%, there must be something somewhere that says that's just plain illegal.

I can understand why Congress could care less about my needs, but the school administration? What gives?

Posted by MVHS parent N, a resident of Waverly Park
on Oct 30, 2013 at 11:46 am

Here is another prove that Mountain View High School Math department is doing their unique grading system...

Below is physics class agenda for test. It is included all previous contents. That said, physics is doing cumulative tests. Physics teachers allow students to do corrections on test, and getting credits for those test. Math departments teachers don't agree with the school policy of doing test corrections to be responsible students relearned.

Grading procedures are not only ABCD, percentages, but also how teachers grading methods on tests. I think most parents know the that Math departments teachers doing their own way, and raised the issues tmschool board. However school board just ignore parents voice.

physics class

2D Motion Test Block
Yes you may use a 3x5 card of notes (both sides). Be sure to include all needed formulas as they will not be provided for you.
Study: class notes, warm up, Hewitt and Holt textbooks and wkbk pg 58
Practice test – wkbk pg 68 (skip#22,24,26,29)
Test will cover:
All previous content +

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