Friday, January 9, 2015

The grading system our kids deserve...

I'm proud to say that my school district has been making great strides in regard to grading beliefs and grading practices. In particular, our HS and MS have really mustered up quite a bit of grading momentum. These grading shifts were born out of a Rick Wormeli visit to our district this past October and the example set forth by Matt Townsley's district in Iowa. After several revisions and a thorough vetting process, here is what our HS and MS believe about grading:
1. We believe that each student learns at a different pace and we believe that ‘when’ a kid learns isn’t nearly as important as ‘if’ a kid learns. Therefore, after working with their teacher, students will not be academically penalized for turning in work on an alternate date.

2. We believe students should be allowed multiple opportunities in various ways to demonstrate their understanding of classroom learning standards. Therefore, retakes will be encouraged and will be allowed after the relearn process for full credit in all content areas up until the last week of the quarter.

-       Since student learning is our top priority, retakes will be offered on all assessments. Before a student is able to retake an assessment, the student must first go through the ‘relearn’ process and complete a ‘relearn’ form. This is to ensure the student learns the appropriate material and improves his/her understanding before doing the retake. Even if a student did well on an assessment, they may choose to retake to further demonstrate their mastery.

-       All teachers will use the same relearn form for consistency purposes.

-       Time for students to do retakes will be built into the school day as well as offered before or after school if the teacher and student are both willing and able. We recognize that not all students are able to arrive early or stay late, so every effort will be made to make time for retakes during the school day.

-       Students are encouraged to maintain and practice proper study habits to limit the number of retakes needed.

-       If a student is routinely retaking assessments, the student’s teacher will meet with the student to determine a plan of action to improve student learning the first time around.

-       If a student struggles with just one particular part of an assessment, the teacher may elect to have the student only retake that specific part of the assessment.

-       Teachers may elect to use an alternative assessment or variation of the original assessment when doing retakes.

3. We believe a student’s grade should reflect what he/she actually knows and can demonstrate on a classroom assignment or assessment tied to specific learning standard(s). Therefore, extra credit will not be used.

4. We believe each student must acquire certain skills to be a successful citizen, however we also believe that a grade must reflect what a student knows and can demonstrate when it comes to specific academic learning standards. Therefore, non-academic indicators, such as simple classroom participation, behavior, work completion, attendance & other non-academic indicators, will not be included in a student’s academic grade.