Schools must study policies

There’s no doubt the education field is a changing landscape with new technology, budget struggles and higher standards. We applaud school districts that update their policies and adapt to new challenges.

We are seeing an example of this in the Gloversville Enlarged School District.

The Board of Education adopted a uniformed grading policy in June 2012 to streamline policy throughout its schools. The board said the policy would be revisited in one year, and we were happy to see it was. A committee’s findings recently were revealed to the board.

One of the committee’s suggestions included having the regents exam count as a final exam because students have been frustrated by the number of tests they have to prepare for at the end of a course.

Under the current policy, state assessments such as regents exams are not averaged into the final grade, but a final assessment can count as one-fifth of the student’s final grade.

While counting the regents exam as the final exam is logical, we caution the Gloversville district and others against tying the hands of teachers. If some teachers want to give additional exams and practice tests, they should be able to do so. Teachers need a degree of control over their classrooms.

Many teachers are passionate professionals who can be more effective if they are given some flexibility in the way they teach while still adhering to a school district’s standards and policies. It’s a shame teachers are so restricted by measures on the state and federal levels.

The Gloversville committee also suggested assignments should lose 5 percent of a grade for each day they are late – up to 20 percent. We like this suggestion because students should learn to respect deadlines and break the habit of procrastination.

The Gloversville district also continues to review and update other policies as it faces challenges regarding graduation rates and student performance on standardized tests. Frequent review, which can lead to new and better approaches, is necessary for the success of local schools.