LCPS’ Controversial Grading Policy

Lalita Durbha, Reporter

The Loudoun County School Board has been considering enacting a new grading policy for the 2019-2020 school year. This policy has been a year in the making, with school board officials debating whether or not the new grading system, Policy 5030, would be beneficial to students. It brings dramatic changes to how students learn, complete homework and schoolwork, and take tests. 

The new policy states, along with other changes, that formative scores are no longer a factor in students’ overall class grades. Additionally, it states that students who receive scores lower than 80% are able to retake up to 80%, allowing students a chance to improve if their original scores were not satisfactory.

Although this policy has not been voted on by the school board yet, it has been a topic of conversation throughout Briar Woods High School. 

“I don’t like that homework is no longer graded. It gets rid of the [incentive] to work hard and gives the better grades to the kids who are naturally smart,” said Briar Woods junior Max Gallant.

Students and teachers alike did not have the opportunity to give their input on the new policy, almost as if it was forced on them. The school board is trying to do what is best for the students but the communication channels between these two groups have proven to be quite weak. 

“The school board needs to hear the voices of the students before they make decisions that directly impact students. Representation of opinions isn’t just for governments; it’s for student bodies as well,” said Briar Woods junior Sanchya Kansal.

The enactment of this policy, however, is not a matter that solely affects the students. It also makes an impact on the staff’s teaching styles. It is a two-way street that requires students and teachers to incorporate the policy’s  mandates into the classroom setting. Not all teachers have tried using the new policy, and some only use it to certain extents.

“I think it sends a mixed message because students want to be held accountable for grades. If they are not receiving points for homework, some students will have a tough time justifying doing the homework.  Also, a student should be held accountable for work that is not done, but there is no accountability since we are not allowed to give them a 0,” said Briar Woods math teacher Mr. Sarmento. 

However, he doesn’t believe the new policy is all bad, and says, “Giving kids a retake helps, because oftentimes kids may not be able to master a concept the first go around and kids are willing to work to improve their grades.” 

The school board is yet to come to a decision on this new policy, but strong pushes are being seen in favor of it by chair members. Based on their decision, teachers and students will possibly have to accommodate to a new way of learning and taking assessments.