A School Board's PurposeHow we fight

HOLD LEADERS ACCOUNTABLE - We hold decision makers accountable or we work to replace them with liberty-minded individuals.

For several years, District 303 Pekin Community High School has been experimenting with Skills-Based Grading (SBG), AKA Standards-Based Grading. The methodology aims to overcome what are perceived as inadequacies within the traditional A, B, C, etc. based on tests, quizzes, homework, and class participation. The most visible aspect of SBG is grades ranging from 1 (poor) to 4 (best).

Moms for Liberty of Tazewell County proposed a statement of purpose and five missions that we believe every public school district should use to prioritize everything that the district does.

Our first mission is the Academic Mission: – A diploma from our school can be trusted to certify that our students have demonstrated competence, especially in the reading, writing, and arithmetic basics.

Are District 303 Board of Education members making decisions that will improve the competence of PCHS graduates?

Why we fight

Parent SBG SurveyAs outlined in the video Skills-Based Grading @ PCHS - 2022, District 303 has been working on Skills-Based Grading since the 2021-2022 school year.  The current 2023-2024 school year is scheduled to be the end of pilot testing.  According to the timeline, '23 - '24 will be when whole school decisions will be finalized.

On December 18, 2023, Principal Joel Schmieg sent an email to parents requesting their participation in the Parent SBG Survey.  The email did not mention a deadline for the parents to complete the survey.  The survey did not communicate any plans to share the results of the survey, either to the parents or to the Board of Education for District 303 Pekin Community High School.  The survey did not communicate whether the results of the survey would be used to make the final determination regarding full implementation of Skills-Based Grading at PCHS.

 

Gradebooks PCHS's SBG pilots use the 0 - 4 Scale.  Use of this scale is based upon "Summative Assessments" instead of grades between 0 and 100 on tests, quizzes, homework, class participation, etc.  So, the semester gradebooks used for each student will be organized by standards and by evidence, assessments, and events where the teacher assesses the students achievement of the standard.  These grades need to be supplemented with another assessment on behaviors, i.e. characteristics about students that acknowledge work ethic, attention in class, homework, and discipline.  Behavior grading has yet to be communicated.  PCHS has communicated a chart in PCHS Grading '22 - '23 that converts the SBG grades to traditional grades required by the Illinois State Board of Education. 

What's missing in the video and the materials is evidence that District 303 Board of Education members prioritize improving student competencies when making decisions on SBG!

Insights

  • Illinois School Report CardAnnually, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) publishes the Illinois Report Card for every public school district. Our issues: a) diplomas seldom indicate an ability to succeed as an adult; b) more focus on English, math and science is necessary and less of the distractions that consume the precious hours in school.  For 2023, the ISBE reports 23% of PCHS students were proficient in English, 20% were proficient in mathematics, and 67% were proficient in science.  A multi-year implementation of a new grading system that requires additional professional development for the entire staff is an enormous investment.  Yet, independent validation of improved competency isn't mentioned in anything we've reviewed from PCHS.
  • Kayla Veenstra authored a masters thesis dealing with Standards-Based Grading.  "This review examines why schools are choosing to implement such a major change, beneficial strategies that other schools have employed in this transition, challenges that may appear in the transition, and the effects seen after implementing a standards-based grading system."  The article reads as a proponent of SBG and references other independent research regarding impact on student proficiency in ACT tests.  Neither research concluded that proficiency increased, one reported that proficiency declined:  "…. data of students over the span of two years from two different, but very similar demographically, rural Midwestern high schools …. English, math, and composite ACT scores were significantly higher for students within the traditional grading system than those from the standards-based system."
  • Both the PCHS overview and Veenstra's thesis report that every school district's implementation of SBG is unique and that what PCHS labels as behavior measurement varies drastically among the implementing schools.  District 303's Board of Education owes the community an explanation of how behavior measurement will be structured, and if their implementation of behavior measurement has been proven to improve proficiency or competence in any other school district.
  • Principal Schmeig's survey asks parents if Summative Assessments will work for their child, what are the best parts of SBG and what has been most challenging for their children.  Prior to school wide deployment of SBG, District 303 owes the community an opportunity to hear what parents had to say and what District 303 will do to address parent's concerns.

Joyful Warrior Plan

We do not co-parent with the governmentThe very existence of the national Moms for Liberty organization and of our Tazewell County chapter is to assure parents' rights are respected by Boards of Education. We recognize that most parents with children in public schools cannot devote the amount of time necessary to attend school district meetings, to monitor state and federal laws and mandates, and to identify issues where the parents need their voice heard.

Similarly, the academic mission of a Board of Education is the single most important reason for their existence.  Parents and taxpayers are protected by the 1st Amendment to exercise "the right to petition the government for redress of grievances." 

Moms for Liberty of Tazewell County will petition school boards for redress regarding whole school implementation decisions for SBG and demanding that independently measured competency and proficiency are THE MAJOR MEASURES of the effectiveness of SBG 

HOLD LEADERS ACCOUNTABLE - We hold decision makers accountable or we work to replace them with liberty-minded individuals.

References

Document - PCHS Grading '22 - '23 (.pdf download)
Document - Parent SBG Survey (.pdf download)
Video - Skills-Based Grading @ PCHS - 2022
Website - Illinois Report Card
Website - The Effects of Standards-Based Grading and Strategies for Implementation: A Review of Literature - Kayla Veenstra – Spring 2021