Lewiston modifying aspects of student learning, grading system

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LEWISTON — The Lewiston School Department will return to the 0-100 grading system for high school students and replace the online grading software, Superintendent Bill Webster told the School Committee on Monday night.

The changes are meant to modify aspects of the proficiency-based learning system, which has been criticized by some students, parents and staff.

Webster said high school diplomas issued in 2021 will still be based on the new learning system of instruction, assessment, grading and academic reporting. The system is designed to demonstrate that students have learned the knowledge and skills they need to move to the next grade. Work is ranked on a scale of 1 to 4 instead of 0-100.

Starting in the fall, high school students will be given grades of 0-100.

All other students will be graded on a scale of 1-4.

High school freshmen are given 1-4 grades in core courses, but not all courses.

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Next year, Principal Jake Langlais will lead the effort to have all freshmen go back to 0-100 grades, Webster announced.

The Empower computer grading program, which many found difficult, if not impossible, to use, will be replaced with PowerSchool, which Lewiston used previously.

In the past year PowerSchool has been significantly improved for proficiency-based systems, Webster said.

School Committee member Tina Hutchinson, who serves on a proficiency-based committee, told Webster, “Thank you, this is a good compromise.” The changes represent “a proactive plan that I think we can all live with,” she said.

School Committee Chairman Francis Gagnon invited members of the audience to comment, but no one did.

Webster said the challenge is to give high school students grades between 0-100 in a way that will be true to proficiency-based learning.

In proficiency-based learning, a grade of 1 means not proficient; 2 means making progress; 3 means being proficient; and 4 means exceeding expectations.

Going back to 0-100, “right now a 1, the lowest level, might be 65 to 69, a 2 might be a range of 70 to something,” Webster said. “But how do we communicate proficiency? We’ve got a lot of work to do at the high school.”

As the one charged with running the schools, Webster said he needed to come up with acceptable grounds “and end the paralysis that is restricting our ability to move forward.”

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