Lagunitas looking toward new grading system


The superintendent of the Lagunitas School District is floating the idea of implementing a new grading system at the middle school, where about 100 students now receive old-fashioned As, Bs and Cs. John Carroll said the approach, which was implemented this year at the Bolinas-Stinson Union School District, which he also oversees, substitutes traditional A-F grading for a more nuanced analysis that uses a 3-point scale to assess a student’s understanding of subjects and their capabilities in the classroom. The system has been working well at Bolinas-Stinson, he said, and can be designed to align with the California Common Core state standards. Mr. Carroll said he expects to see students at Bolinas-Stinson improve their scores on standardized tests at the end of the year. “I think there’s a positive correlation between standards-based reporting and test scores,” he said. The two elementary school programs at Lagunitas School, Montessori and Open Classroom, have for years used nontraditional grading systems that are “pretty close” to standards-based reporting, Mr. Carroll said. “I think the idea is it changes the focus of what school is supposed to be. It’s not about just the learning; it encourages learning. You should have a clear idea of what the learning is and have immediate feedback,” he said. Mr. Carroll said he wants the four middle school teachers to embrace the idea and that he would work closely with them to design the new system, whose categories would be tailored for each class. Jodie NewDelman, a mother of three Lagunitas School students, supports implementing the new grading system. “It’s kind of a no brainer in my mind,” she said. “I think it’s much more aligned with what school is about. As a parent, we all want more information as opposed to just giving an A. The only opposition [is from] people who are strongly connected to traditional schooling.”