School Committee Looks at Issues with New Grading System

By Kaileigh Deacon


At their regular meeting on Tuesday, October 17th, the Calais School Committee looked at the school’s newly adopted grading system. The new grading system, Empower, started this fall and allows for teachers to enter grades in the system for the standards-based grading that the state requires. When progress reports were released recently, there were issues with the reporting of grades. 

Progress reports and report cards are supposed to have the typical percentage grade that parents are used to seeing. Instead, parents saw the standards-based grading. Apparently, there was a system issue that caused the error. While the school adjusts to the change in the grading system, standards-based is needed only for the maths, sciences, language arts, and history. Right now, teachers in these subjects are keeping two sets of grades: the standards-based grades in Empower as well as percentage-based grades. 

The standards-based grading is done on a decaying average meaning that grades on assignments closer to the end of the grading period will be worth more since students are expected to know the subject better than they did at the beginning. 

The school is also working on the potential of partnering with Pratt Chevrolet and schools across Washington County for a raffle. Superintendent Ron Jenkins said that he was approached by Ian Pratt for Calais to take part in a raffle for a two-year lease on a Chevy Silverado. Students would sell tickets on the truck and all the proceeds from ticket sales would stay with the schools that sold them. 

Superintendent Jenkins said that the truck would likely be raffled off around Tournament Week in February. Jenkins asked the School Committee for their opinion on the matter. The committee whole-heartedly agreed that it would be worth pursuing. With the consent of the committee, Jenkins would take the idea before the superintendents’ board when he meets with them to gauge the interest of other school districts. 

The School Committee also heard a small presentation on the new process of teacher evaluations that will be implemented starting this year. The evaluations will focus on three elements; SMART Goals, mini observations, and student growth. Each of these is given a percentage that will be applied to the evaluation. The change from one long observation to several mini ones is to allow for a variety factors that could impact just one observation. 

All probationary teachers will have to undergo evaluations yearly and the school will evaluate one third of continuing contract teachers. Continuing contract teachers will have to be evaluated every three years rather than every year. 

This was the last school board meeting before the elections in November. It was the last meeting for committee member John Hill and Lea Farrar who will not be running for their seats again. Per the city charter, the next meeting will have to be held after the elections for the new members. The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, November 7th at 7:00 p.m. in the Calais Middle High School Library.