By Alanna Fichtel
Last year, students experienced major changes in physical education classes with the PEP Grant requirements. This year, more changes were implemented regarding making up missed classes and grading.
If a student misses more than three gym classes, he or she must make up each missed class in order to pass. In the past, students could attend any other gym class during a free period within the quarter to receive credit for their missed classes. However, this was problematic for coaches because classes were often disrupted by the extra students. Coaches also received complaints that students were missing academic classes to make up gym classes.
Now, students can only make up classes from 7:00 to 7:40 AM. Make up classes will be offered every morning during the first two weeks of the following quarter. Also, only three gym make-ups are permitted per quarter.
Many students are unhappy they can’t make up a gym during a free period before the quarter ends. Senior Jordan Aronowitz said, “It’s inconvenient to go to school that early.” He is also concerned that a failing mark will show up on students’ report cards before they make up the classes they missed.
“The idea is to promote attendance,” said coach Tom Umstatter. He understands students’ concerns, but hopes the new make-up system will cause them to miss fewer classes.
Coach Umstatter and the rest of the Physical Education Department also want gym classes to be respected the way academic classes are. Currently, students receive a pass/fail grade for physical education along with a verbal comment on their attitude. The Physical Education Department is piloting a numerical grading system that will be put into effect next year. For each class, students will be graded on a five-point scale. They can earn one point for being on time, one point for being prepared, and up to three points for participation. There are 20 gym classes per quarter, giving students the opportunity to earn 100 points. This system is already in place at North High School, North Middle School, and South Middle School.
This year at the end of each quarter, students will still only see a pass or fail mark on their report card, but gym coaches will tell their students what number grade they would have earned. This method will give students a chance to see what it takes to get a good grade before it actually counts. Some students, like junior Kaitlyn Scherder, wish the numerical grades were counting this year. “It would help my average,” she said.
Students like Kaitlyn who participate in gym already won’t have a problem with the new system. Students who currently do not show a great deal of effort will have to change their attitudes. “We’re not trying to fail anyone,” said Coach Umstatter. “We just want kids to benefit from physical education.”