Over 45,000 Christian educators are on ACSI Community, an online platform for educators around the world to connect with each other. These educators have started 672 conversations that have resulted in over 3,400 responses! Along these lines, here are some topics trending in Community discussions this past month.

Should Christian Schools Use Title II Funds?

In this thread, school leaders are discussing whether Title II funds have a place in Christian education. Many schools find themselves limited in their ability to send their staff to professional development opportunities, and Title II can open the door to make this more affordable. Do you know that Christian schools are now able to use Title II funds for professional development, even at a faith-based conference such as ACSI’s various offerings? (Visit here for more information about the U.S. Department of Education decision). Schools on Community are discussing whether there is a downside to accepting this funding, including any future potential for schools to lose their autonomy with regards to their curriculum if they utilize these funds. Join the conversation and find out what your colleagues are saying about this topic.

Payroll Percentage of Your Budget

This month we saw a very dynamic conversation regarding the percentage of budget allocated to payroll in our schools. Regardless of school size, there is a finite amount of money to spend in school budgets—and with so many worthy things to spend it on, schools are asking how they can be wise stewards of the gifts they have been given. Many leaders responded back with their specific percentage, but some of the answers included the thought process behind the decision made for payroll allocations. As one member stated, “We have a responsibility to take care of them (staff), invest in them, and build them up.”

Related to this discussion, we shared on Community this spring that after extremely high demand, the ACSI Tuition and Salary Survey is back for 2019. We will be delivering fresh insights from the survey right before school starts this fall—providing real-time data from member schools that leaders can use in budgeting and staffing plans for this coming school year and the next. Schools who participated by the deadline of June 15 will receive national-level insights as well as access to an interactive, web-based tool, which provides them with customized results for their geographic region, school size, and other metrics.

Grading Scales – Traditional or Modified?

It seems like the value of a “D” in our grading systems is a continual topic of conversation. I remember hearing about it for the first time when I was at an AP training course and wondering what the thought process behind eliminating the “D” grade was. Fast-forward 14 years and, based on the conversations in Community, it is still a topic for discussion.

The conversation starts with a question about the “why” for schools that have eliminated the “D” grade. Participants wondered how the school community reacted. Some schools with the policy have not communicated the “why” to their staff but see school families accepting the change nonetheless. Others have changed due to the public schools in their area making the change first. An interesting response was how to score “reasonable attempts” that do not make the cut. Is there a baseline score needed to prevent students from dropping into the failing category based on some low scores?

One of the discussion participants shared a PowerPoint presentation by Rick Wormelli from an ACSD conference (shared with permission) entitled, “Fair Isn’t Always Equal: Differentiated Assessment and Grading.” This presentation discusses the inherent problems of grades and grading and walks through a variety of current options and potential options. This document can be found in our ACSI Member community group under the conversation “Grading scales – Ds & Fs.” Readers may also wish to visit an excellent ACSI blog post, Rethinking Assessment: A Tool for Learning and Spiritual Formation, related to the topic of grading in Christian schools.

Food for Thought

With the summer months upon us, you may want to spend some time exploring these three conversations. The questions below, as well as the links to the Community platform, can help you do just that.


About the Author

Heather Wendt is the content and community manager at ACSI in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she has helped build and run a digital platform that allows educators from around the globe to collaborate and engage with each other. She has worked in education for 16 years: 11 as a high school chemistry teacher and three as a director of Education for a medical seminar company. One of her passions is innovation in education, and she was part of a small team that developed a course that blended science, technical writing, presentation skills, and project-based learning through a partnership with a local university while obtaining her master’s degree in corporate training and knowledge management. Her goal in life is to provide connections: whether person-to-person, or person to ideas. She can be reached via email at heather_wendt@acsi.org.

Questions to Consider:

What are some ways you are using Title II funds to support your educational initiatives? If you are not using them, what are some reasons you have not?

Does your school use a traditional or modified grading scale? What are your reasonings for whichever type you have chosen?

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