Students across Dinwiddie County will be heading back to school on September 6, and for sixth and ninth grade students that date will be their first day in a new school. At a recent school board meeting, school personnel outlined a number of things they have been doing to try to make the transition easier for students, including holding a two-day orientation for rising ninth graders. Board Chairwoman Barbara Pittman said that she was impressed by the turnout at that event and by the enthusiasm of the students who attended.
“Anything that we can do to help the transition of fifth to sixth or eight to nine—help students feel comfortable, get them ready, so that first week is more productive—will only help us in the long run,” Pittman said.
The school board has also approved an initiative to make sixth grade more of an exploratory grade, allowing students to experience a greater variety of electives. Jason Chandler, the new principal of Dinwiddie Middle School, said that the school will be implementing a pass/fail grading scale for sixth grade electives rather than an A through F scale, though he said he did not think the new grading scale was an indication of easier classes.
“I don’t believe that we’re decreasing the rigor of those courses,” Chandler said. “Conversely, I actually think that we’re increasing the rigor of those courses because we’ll be able to implement more project-based learning, where students will be able to move down the track of creating those projects in small groups, they’ll be able to collaborate, and then they’ll be able to earn a pass/fail rather than an A through an F.”
Chandler also said that, as part of the change, sixth graders will not be required to dress out for P.E. and they will have additional time set aside for remediation and enrichment.