Lines have been drawn over a controversial grading system being implemented at Liberal High School, and the rhetoric from both sides is only making the issue worse.
Pilot programs are a good way to test new theories, and trying out the competency based grading in a limited form is not a bad idea.
But the district’s policy on just exactly what a pilot program is, and how far it can be implemented without board knowledge or approval is vague at best.
Without effective policy, any principal could try any new grading experiment, and have all students in a school receiving grades from the “pilot” without board knowledge or approval, or even superintendent knowledge or approval.
This is a reckless policy.
Whether a pilot is good or bad, the district’s leadership, as well as its elected board, should be aware of pilot programs and have provided consent.
As far as the current issue, since there was no superintendent knowledge nor board approval, tempers have flared and lines have been drawn either for or against the “pilot” program which required more than 60 percent of the teachers to adopt the “pilot” and only notified parents of the change afterward.
This method of implementation has also caused hard feelings and confusion about whether or not a “requirement” is actually a “pilot.”
Those attempting the pilot have good intentions. To them, they believe they have found a better way to evaluate and educate kids.
Those who do not support the change also have good intentions. They believe the new method does not require the proper planning and work needed to be successful.
One side is no more educated or intellectual than the other. It is simply a difference of opinion.
The worst road to take would be to close down discussion.
Not listening to the objections, or the merits, leads to contempt on both sides.
This is where leadership is required. From principals to administrators and elected officials, there should be open dialogue on how students are evaluated.
If a new system is better, there should be success stories from those districts where it has been implemented. If it has failed, there should be stories explaining those as well.
Our leaders should listen to all the data to reach a positive outcome for our students.
Part of the learning process is to consider new possibilities, but it is also critical to listen to all the viewpoints objectively.
We should take pride in the fact that LHS has achieved a high ranking in Kansas.
Whether the grading change would be a step forward or backward is not yet known, but it has opened a discussion that needs to take place.
That discussion will require both sides to listen and show respect for the opposing view.