The School District of Beloit has a new grading system and middle school principal after Tuesday’s board meeting.
Mark Smullen, former interim principal of Beloit Memorial High School, will serve as the new principal for Aldrich Middle School. Smullen will be replacing Walter James, who is leaving Aldrich to become principal of Rock Cut Elementary School in Loves Park, Ill. Smullen will begin serving as principal effective July 1.
The board also chose to adopt Superintendent Milt Thompson’s new grading system which will begin in the fall.
Thompson is now focused on implementation of the system. According to the board business packet the goal of the new grading system is to help students increase effort so their academic performance is reflective of their true potential and capability. The new system aims to promote mastery of material. Thompson said the current grading system is not working and is ineffective at preventing student failure.
Under the new grading system, the lowest acceptable grade a student can receive is a C. The new system replaces letter grades of D and F with grades of I and M, though it is possible teachers will still be permitted to use D and F. Work below a C must be made up or the student will have to attend summer school.
One of the primary focuses of the grading system is communication. Thompson said the system will increase feedback for students, teachers and parents as the system will also feature real-time grades every few weeks. Teachers will also be required to fill out an electronic grade book via the Skyward online management program.
Grades of M will be used for missing work while grades of I will be designated for work that is handed in but is less than C quality work. All work below C quality must be redone; however, the highest grade a student can earn on a retake is a B.
Students who fail to complete work will be enrolled in an alternative summer school program that centers on completing missing work. Prior to its approval, Thompson held discussions with nearly all departments and received input from teachers, parents and students across the district. He also piloted the system in several departments.
The vote to approve the grading policy passed by a vote of 5-0 as board members Shannon Scharmer and John Winkelmann were not in attendance for the business meeting.
The school board also approved purchases of over $15,000 for Novell, Weidenhammer Systems Corp. and Norlight Inc. and adopted anti-bullying curriculum which is aligned to standards set by the Department of Public Instruction. The school board also amended and reposted the job description for the district’s Community and School Relations position— currently held by Melissa Badger— to reflect extra responsibilities. The position will also come with an increased salary as determined by the superintendent and board of education.