Mommy, Mommy, I Made An "M"

That doesn't even sound right does it? Some of you probably have no idea what I'm talking about but if you have kids in kindergarten thru forth grade in Loudon County schools you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's the new grading system that the schools are experimenting with.

The new grading system, called standards based grading, uses M, P and N instead of A, B and C. According to school administrators the new system is suppose to provide parents with a better understanding of a child's progress. But from the parents I've heard from the new system is more confusing than helpful.

In the world of education ever so many years the "professionals" seem to come up with some kind of new way to educate children then after a while another bunch figures out another new way and decide the old way doesn't work. It's been that way for years. One good example is some years ago the professional educators came up with what was known as the pod system for new school buildings. (North Middle and Fort Loudon Middle) The idea was no walls between classrooms but an open forum. Kind of a cum-bi-yah style of education. It didn't take long to figure out that this was a bad idea. Then millions more had to be spent putting walls between classrooms. The new grading practice also eliminates the Honor Roll program.

It's kind of that old saying. "If it's not broke, don't fix it." For years children have been educated and graded with A, B and C's and that seems to have worked pretty good. Most of us managed to make it through and graduate. But, for the sake of kids and to give the new system the benefit of the doubt, parents should give it a little time to see if the new system is in fact better.

The new system is not mandatory and is strictly an experiment and can be ended at any time. If you have questions or concerns about the new grading system, you can contact your principal or system administrators.

Switching from 'A's to 'M's in Loudon County elementary schools

Mary E. Hinds News Herald

The traditional A, B and C grades are being replaced with scores of M, P and N at Loudon County elementary schools this year.

At the Thursday, Sept. 3, county school board workshop, members discussed calls from parents concerned about the new grading system, which reflects whether a student has mastered or not mastered a subject. This change from the usual format has apparently left some parents confused.

Kathy Greene, the system's kindergarten through grade-five supervisor explained under the new system Loudon County students from kindergarten to grade four will receive an "M" on their report card when they have mastered a subject or skill, can do it independently and are ready to build upon that skill or go on to another skill.

A "P" means progressing. "What we saying is we're not alarmed. The children are doing exactly what we would expect them to be doing. They still may need a little bit of help from time to time. They are not quite ready to build upon that skill but they are doing what they need to be doing" Greene explained.

An "N" means they have not met the standard. "Those are children that we will continue to give direct instruction. They're not ready to do it independently at all," she said. 

Greene acknowledged the new system was a "mind shift" for parents who are more accustomed to the old marks and she too had been getting calls from parents. She said after she explained the new system only one set of parents still seemed unhappy.

Board member Lisa Russell asked how elementary students would be acknowledged on honor rolls if they were no longer receiving traditional A, B and C grades. Greene said county school officials were suggesting honor rolls not begin until grade five.

"It is more important for teachers and parents to have a true understanding of a student's areas of understanding," she told the board. "The reason behind that - we talked about it quite a bit - we know the classroom teachers give a lot of recognition within the room. We want to reserve that honor roll for our older students," she said. 


According to Greene the state has not mandated the change but more counties are moving toward this grading system.

"This was a Loudon County decision," she said. "We knew it was a huge change," adding after the grading system has been in place for a year it will be reevaluated. Greene Acknowledged and any necessary changes will be made at that time.