Policy reacts to low achievement levels amid pandemic
The board of the Santa Barbara Unified School District has a full schedule for its meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The district seeks the board’s approval of a proposed grading policy, allowing students to earn “incomplete” or “no credit.”
The board discussed the policy during a special meeting on Jan. 5. Secondary school teachers expressed concerns about a grading change at the end of their grading period.
“My concern tonight is what’s best for my students right now, and I think what’s best for them is to have agency,” San Marcos High School teacher Kim Tilton said. “There are many students that should have the choice to receive a D if that’s what’s best for them.”
The policy was revised to allow students to earn a D, and Fs are still replaced with “no credit.” Per an existing policy, students can still earn “incomplete” grades. The district consulted teachers to make this revision.
According to the board presentation on the agenda, only 20% of certified staff members in junior high and high schools were in favor of eliminating Ds for January’s final grades. And 26% are in favor for future grading periods.
A total of 80% answered in favor of replacing Fs with “no credit.”
Elementary schools will see more parent warnings and intentional interventions when students fall below proficient in their subjects.
Administrators also seek the board’s approval on four new high school courses.
The first is an elective on STEM-focused careers called “Forensics Using Science” and is available to alternative education students. It uses a program already installed at the alternative schools, so there is no additional cost.
“Composition Through Literature English 111” is a proposed college-level course which allows students to earn SBCC credits alongside their high school English requirements. It also has no monetary impact.
The last are two sequential courses on Black history called “Black Studies: History of Africans in America.” It would cost $18,136 for the district to train staff and acquire ebooks and would be funded through a supplemental grant.
The meeting also contains a public hearing on Thoreau Community School’s petition for charter. Thoreau Community School believes in nature-based education, social-emotional learning and justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.
No SBUSD members have voiced support for the charter, though 47 families have signed letters of intent to transfer. Only 24 are within the district’s elementary boundaries. The board will either grant or deny the petition Feb. 23.
The district also hopes to approve a service agreement with Engie Services, USA, for the purchase and construction of solar shade structures at 14 school sites.
The project costs $2,087,000, funded through Measure I and J 2016 bond funds. Upon payment, the district will be reimbursed $1.2 million that it will finance over the course of 28 years.
As is routine, the board will have a 7:00 p.m. time-certain update on the presence of COVID-19 in the community.