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Pasco school district to ease off strict new grading rules

The concepts will be strongly encouraged, but not required.
Pasco school district employee relations director Kathy Scalise presents a contract offer during negotiations in October 2018. [Jeffrey S. Solochek | Times]

Shortly before teachers left for summer break, the Pasco County school district rolled out new rules for grading middle and high school students’ work.

The two-sided page offered a list of required practices, such as not having homework scores count as a “significant” portion of a course grade, and disallowed practices, such as awarding extra points for meeting deadlines.

Some teachers and School Board members raised some concerns over the content, suggesting more flexibility might be needed in certain areas.

But even before tackling such issues, the United School Employees of Pasco had a more basic problem.

“It was never brought to the board as policy to be adopted, nor was it negotiated ... as a change to working conditions," USEP president Don Peace said.

He raised the subject with senior administrative staff, hoping to get the matter resolved before students return for classes. It’s important, Peace said, to begin the year with a set of agreed upon grading standards that students and parents can depend upon.

With just days to go before the first day of school, the sides landed on a plan.

The administration and union set a deal that the principles and practices will be “recommended, not required,” employee relations director Kathy Scalise said.

Peace said that makes a big difference from the “required and disallowed" that had been presented, because it won’t count against teachers who might not have been trained or fully informed on the different approach. He acknowledged some changes might come in the future.

“We will continue to work on this,” Peace said.

The item has not yet come up in contract talks, which continued Thursday evening.