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Schools data system limits innovation in grading

As a Boston Public Schools teacher who uses the district’s new data system daily, I think James Vaznis provides a balanced account of its benefits and drawbacks (“City rounding up students’ records,” Page A1, Nov. 23). But his article overlooks an important limitation: The grading component of the system forces teachers to use a traditional grading method that sets a point value for an assignment and subtracts points when students do not meet the criteria for that assignment.

Many innovative teachers in Boston have devoted countless hours to researching, designing, and implementing innovative grading methods, including those that focus on progressing toward standards, on fulfilling a contract between the student and teacher, and on giving students credit for what they do well instead of deducting for mistakes. In many cases, these practices have been cast aside in favor of using a universal system.

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This critique is not meant as an indictment of traditional grading. It certainly has its place. But with constant advances in technology, we should be able to implement a system that not only improves communication and data collection but also encourages ingenuity.

Karl Sineath

Jamaica Plain

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