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Portales approves alternative grading format


September 11, 2019

PORTALES — An alternative grading format, touted as more comprehensive and revealing, was approved Monday for implementation among the first- and second-grade students at James Elementary School in Portales.

Instead of a single numerical grade per subject on the 0-100 scale, students will receive an evaluation from 1-4 for different aspects of each subject, allowing teachers to emphasize areas that need work and parents to better understand how their child is performing. That’s according to a presentation in Monday evening’s meeting of the Portales Municipal School Board from James Elementary Principal Deanne McKinney.

McKinney gave the board quarterly evaluation reports for a fictional first-grader, contrasting a grade of “83” in the Reading/Language Arts subject with a “Standard Based” grade that breaks down that student’s performance into six components including reading comprehension, writing sentences and spelling and punctuation.

Board President Inez Rodriguez said she believed the new format “will help the parent even more” in seeing where their child’s strengths are and where they need to do more work. Member Rod Savage said he “likes the bit about study habits and behavior,” a section evaluating how a student obeys classroom rules, respects others, uses time wisely and so on.

The board voted unanimously to approve the Standard Based grading format, which only applies to the first- and second-grade students at James. Traditional letter grades resume in the third grade.

Assistant Superintendent Henry Montaño stood in Monday for PMS Superintendent Johnnie Cain. All board members were present.

Also at the meeting, with all votes unanimous:

• Board members approved budget adjustment requests, contract and application for funds toward the GRADS program in the 2019-20 school year. Implemented 30 years ago, the New Mexico “Graduation, Reality And Dual-role Skills” program focuses on “educational and financial success and family health of expectant and parenting teens of New Mexico,” according to program literature.

Montaño said there was a state allocation totaling $5,500 toward child care and instruction and an additional $16,000 from federal sources for the program this year.

• Savage and PMS Secretary Randy Ranking were selected for the 2019-20 Audit Committee.

• In staff reports, Montaño said materials had been purchased for the forthcoming re-establishment of a cursive writing curriculum for third- to sixth-grade students.


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