Dripping Springs ISD trustees vote on changes to grading policy and term lengths, discusses access of hard-to-reach students

The Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees met April 27, 2020. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)
The Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees met April 27, 2020. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)

The Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees met April 27, 2020. (Courtesy Dripping Springs ISD)

The Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees voted to altar two key policies related to grading at an April 27 meeting—to omit the current semester’s numerical scores from grade point average configuration and to shift high school grading terms from six weeks to nine weeks.

Until now, Dripping Springs High School used a six week grading period, unlike all other DSISD schools, which have used nine week grading periods. Feedback from DSHS teachers informed the board’s decision to make the switch. According to documents prepared by district staff, the change will allow for more remediation and grading opportunities, lessen stress in the grading cycle by providing more time for makeup work and unify grading practices across campuses.

A vote to exclude the current semester’s averages followed a longer conversation at last week’s agenda review meeting of the board, where Superintendent Todd Washburn cited variables in equity and access among students during virtual learning as reasons not to submit numerical grades towards GPA configuration this semester. At least one student wrote to the board requesting the option to choose whether grades are included on an individual basis. Washburn said, however, that a consistent approach is necessary to comply with state guidelines requiring schools to submit the top 10% of students for automatic admission into state-funded Texas colleges.

Washburn said on April 27 that the top 10% of graduates would be determined based on their rank as of the end of the fall 2019 semester.

Also at the April 27 meeting, staff discussed how to access those students who are underperforming in the virtual learning environment, particularly those who teachers in the district have been unable to contact. According to interim Assistant Superintendent of Learning and Innovation Joe Burns, the district has been unable to contact 48 students across the district since remote learning was implemented, a number that represents less than 1% of DSISD students, he said.


The district has reached out to some unresponsive students through home visits and through Hays County welfare checks, Burns said. However, he said staff are working to develop ways those students can catch up on missed work.

“Additional support—office hours support and tutoring—are occurring with students identified,” Burns said. “These students will be receiving services the first few weeks of next year to work on any gaps created.”
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition. She graduated from Presbyterian College with a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing in 2017. Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia, South Carolina before joining Community Impact in Austin.


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