FALCON– August first is the first day of school for kindergartners, sixth, and ninth graders in District 49. Nearly 400 freshmen at Falcon High School went through orientation on Tuesday.
The new students took a tour of the school, got their schedules, and met with their teachers.
Around 40 upperclassmen volunteered to come to school a day early to help guide the ninth graders. It's part of a school club called Link Crew. Ryan Keller is a Link Crew Leader and senior at Falcon High School. On Tuesday Keller helped organize freshman orientation and welcomed the new class to the school.
“We're basically just trying to welcome in the freshmen and give them a good orientation day. Something they can remember so that they are a little more comfortable coming in high school. For these kids, it can be very nerve-racking. So we're trying to ease some of those nerves,” Keller said.
Keller said Link Crews assists new students getting from class to class so when the rest of the student body comes to school on Wednesday, the freshman will already know where to go.
“When you're new to a school or a high school like this and you don't even know where anything is, you don't want to be trying to push past huge, huge crowds of people trying to get to your class on time. So it gives them a chance to figure out what needs to happen, how they're going to do it, and how to be prepared,” Keller said.
This year Falcon High School will be changing their grading scale to match the grading scale used by the rest of District 49.
Dave Kranz has been teaching at Falcon High School for over 20 years. He said he learns just as much as what the kids learn every day.
“I've always told my students that every day you walk in my classroom, you will learn something. So that way, when they go home and mom or dad or parental unit, ask them what you learned at school today. They can say they learned something, as opposed to nothing. No, I learned just as much as what the students do. So I say, I'm going to school,” Kranz said.
For more than ten years students at Falcon High School have been using Standards-based grading.
“We had lots and lots of growing pains with it. The original plan that we did have 12 or 13 years ago is not nothing to what it was last year. So it has changed over the years in so many different ways, with so much turnover and faculty and teachers and, and such.
Kranz said the Standards-based grading that the school used up until last year said it did not turn out to be what it was supposed to.
On the previous scale, standards-based grading, students were given an A, B, C, OR F on an assignment. That correlated with the numbers 1,2,3,4. Four being the same thing as an A.
Kranz said many parents had issues with this previous scale. He thinks this new system will make it easier for students and their families to understand the grades they are given.
“I think sometimes in the past, it looked as if the grading system was out to get some students and that was never the opportunity. That was never the intention. But this new one, I hope there's more transparency,” Kranz said.
This year students will be graded on a traditional scale. This means students will get a score on an assignment based on a percentage of how they did.
“A numerator over denominator, a certain score over a certain total for that assignment, a nine out of 10, they will start to see that again. As opposed to in the past, they would never see numerator, denominator, they just saw a or c or whatever that letter grade was that showed their competency on that assignment, or assessment, or on that project or on whatever the activity was,” Kranz said.
He is optimistic about switching over to the traditional grading style.
“I'm hoping that this year, there will be more consistency that parents will understand,” Kranz said.
Jen Newberg is an instructional coach at Falcon High School. Newberg said changing the grading system will make it easier for the freshman transitioning from middle school to use.
“I think it also helps the community with something that they're used to seeing both in elementary and middle school. It's just that nice transition all the way K through 12,” Newberg said.
Falcon High School was the only school in District 49 that used a Standards-based grading. They are the last school in D49 to move to the traditional grading scale.
“I think some of the benefits of matching the rest of the district is if we have transfers from within District, which happens quite often, people move or transfer because of different things that are offered at different high schools. It makes it more seamless to move between for credits. Especially at high school it is super important for graduating and moving on to your next chapter in life,” Newberg said
Keller said the new grading scale will put less weight on tests and more on other assessments, projects, and so forth.
“It's going to be more even and more stuff is gonna count for more. So it'll be harder to just pass by on really good test scores. Even I'm guilty of just getting like acing tests, I think it'll be different for sure,” Keller said.
Keller liked the old grading scale but believes the new one will encourage students.
“I think it'd be better, the new grading scale will be better for students who might need a little more motivation to put the work in,” Keller said.
He said coming in a day early to help the freshman was worth it.
"Just the camaraderie with the kids and with the rest of the Link Crew. You know, playing dodgeball in there. It's fun. It's fun seeing the kids have fun," Keller said.
All other grades in District 49 will start school on August 2nd.
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