On July 8, the Cape Henlopen school board unanimously approved two revised policies to fine-tune homework expectations and change the secondary grading scale to a 10-point system.
The revised policies come after several months of school work groups and board discussion, led by Supervisor of Secondary Education Mike Young.
One of the biggest concerns noted by educators, administrators and board members was the lack of a 10-point grading scale for secondary students, Young said.
Many neighboring districts use a 10-point scale, and Cape’s structure meant some students were missing out on scholarships, Young said. Even though Cape students had the same number grade as other students, they had a lower letter grade in some instances.
The 10-point scale could also help lower the cost of driver’s insurance for students, Young said, as many insurers award students with higher letter grades.
The previous grading policy, adopted in 1986, set the following parameters: 93 to 100 was an A, 85 to 92 was a B, 84 to 75 was a C, 74 to 70 was a D, and 0 to 69 was an F.
Cape secondary students will now be graded as follows: 90 to 100 is an A, 80 to 89 is a B, 70-79 is a C, 60-69 is a D, and 50-59 is an F. The lowest grade students can now receive is a 50; the board and work groups stated that receiving just one 0 or very low grade not only has a negative impact on student motivation, it also makes it extremely difficult for students to raise their grades.
The grading scale has changed only for secondary, Young said. The elementary assessment scale remains what was implemented a few years ago.
Originally introduced in May, changes to the homework policy first set a 24-hour turnaround time for teacher assessments, which was objected to by Cape Henlopen Education Association President Lacey Brown and several board members.
In June, Young presented a revised homework policy that takes into consideration what tasks can be completed and assessed within a reasonable amount of time while balancing obligations for school, community and family activities.
"Feedback on homework should occur before the next related learning activity or assessment,” Young said. “Feedback is more effective when it occurs as close to the completion of the assignment as possible."
Homework should purposely support learning and be selective in the amount assigned, the policy states.
At the elementary level, students in kindergarten through fifth grade are required to read 30 minutes a night; no additional homework will be given to students in kindergarten through second grade. Students in grades three through five may have additional homework that should be limited to 15 minutes, the policy states.
The previous homework policy was adopted in 1989. Policies 213 and 214, for grading and homework, respectively, are available at capehenlopenschools.com, as are all other board policies.