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The Nevada Independent

Lowering expectations hurts all students

Gabriel Ayass
Gabriel Ayass

Clark County School District administrators are steering policy in a dangerous direction. The district is exploring changes that effectively make all class work and homework assignments optional by not allowing teachers to penalize student assignments for late or missing work.  This lack of accountability for students will make my job as a classroom teacher more difficult.

The Board of Trustees will soon vote on whether to amend Regulation 5121 on student grading for grades K-12. One of the proposed changes states, “Grades shall not be influenced by behavior or other nonacademic measures (e.g., late or missing assignments, attendance, participation, responsibility).”  This is confirmed in the proposed amendments where it states that “Quarter grades shall reflect student achievement on assignments and summative assessments provided by the teacher” with the mention of assignments (formative assessments such as class work and homework) removed from the language.

The proposed changes falsely equate a student’s failure to turn in assignments with “behavior” instead of academic performance. One of the arguments for this is that students should be assessed on what they do instead of what they do not do. The only problem is that the real world certainly assesses individuals on their “non-performance”.

Everyone knows that failing to show up to work or perform tasks on time can get someone disciplined or fired. A doctor that doesn’t perform a scheduled surgery because he or she decided to go home early would certainly lose that job. Even the most skilled attorneys can be disciplined and possibly lose their licenses for failing to file paperwork for their clients before a deadline.

Meeting deadlines lies at the core of what makes someone a responsible and competent professional. However, CCSD administrators proposing these changes are pretending as if hard work is a concept that exists in a vacuum separate from mastery of academic skills and knowledge. This is not surprising from leadership that has led Nevada’s public education system to consistently rank at the bottom among the 50 states.

These changes to Regulation 5121 are being pushed under the veneer of ‘equity’, hurting the very students that the proposed policies claim to help. However, they have failed to propose how this policy would result in a more equitable educational environment. Furthermore, they have failed to define what an equitable situation would look like or even define what equity even means. The changes proposed by administrators hurt low income and minority students by lowering standards, robbing them of important life lessons that help them become college and career ready. Students and their socio-economic identities are being used as a political football by incompetent leadership. Administrators hope to point to inflated graduation rates as a sign of success, even if students are helpless once they enter the workforce.

The reasons proposed for amending Regulation 5121 are misguided at best and intellectually dishonest at worst. The changes aim to artificially inflate graduation rates at the expense of our students’ education.  The future of our children and the Clark County community are too valuable to be gambled on with unproven policies measures based on cherry-picked data. Clark County’s parents and their children deserve better.

Gabriel Ayass is a social studies teacher at Cheyenne High School. He will begin his ninth year with the Clark County School District this year. He is a member of CCEA and a non-partisan registered voter.

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