This process actually began with the Building School Improvement Team (BSIT) several years ago. Team members expressed concerns about the subjectivity of grades and the lack of consistency. It is important to say at this point that the grading procedures in place at CPHS are not unlike those in place at almost all secondary schools across the country. I am not suggesting that our BSIT members were indicating that our procedures are more subjective or more inconsistent that any other high school. The truth is almost all high schools use a percentage based system to score student academic progress and percentage based systems are very subjective and very inconsistent due to the number of increments in the scale (100). Further, percentage based systems are very punitive. The difference between an A and a B on a percentage scale is 10 points. The difference between a D and an E can be up to 59 points. As a result, it can be very difficult for students to recover from missed assignments.
Our BSIT also noticed that our local grade data did not reflect the ability our students were demonstrating on the ACT tests (EXPLORE, PLAN, and ACT). That is one of the reasons that the building implemented an 80/20 model for grading several years ago (80% assessment/20% all other work) - it was an attempt to improve alignment between our grades and our student test scores and the 80/20 model did improve alignment to a degree but there is still significant misalignment.
As a result of these concerns, we began looking at the research on student grading and we reviewed as much as we could find. In fact, we looked at research from the past 91 years. All of the research seems to be indicating the same thing - we need to change in order to increase accuracy, increase consistency, and provide better information about student learning.
Once we completed a review of the research, we drafted a proposed Grading and Reporting Philosophy, Guidelines and Procedures document in an effort to address the concerns. That document went through much debate at BSIT, Parent Advisory Council, and District School Improvement. We also got feedback from various student groups. The document went through several revisions throughout the review process before we settled on the final draft which is linked below for your review.
CPHS Grading and Reporting Philosophy, Guidelines, and Procedures
Over the course of the summer, I will be studying how this change would impact student grades by converting individual student grades and whole classes from the second semester to the new system. It is my intent to be very deliberate and very open about this process to ensure that we are making a change that will positively impact our students and their academic progress. As I go through this process, I plan to blog here about what I am seeing in an effort to provide information to parents, students, staff and anybody else who wishes to read this blog. At this point, I have already converted several individual students and there has been no significant change to the final grades - students who earned an A, B, C, D, or E during the second semester this year under the current grading procedures would have earned the same grade under the proposed procedures in almost all cases. The most significant difference so far is the ability of students to recover from missing work. Under the proposed guideline, a student can recover from a missed assignment almost immediately. Under the current percentage based system, it takes multiple perfect assignments to recover from one missed assignment. Students that fail to turn in work will still receive the consequence - a 0. However, the consequence will be more appropriate as it will be on an equal integer scale.
This is a complicated issue and if I attempted to cover all of the material in this first post, I would have to write a book. So, I'm going to bring this to an end and hope that you will check back as the summer goes on. I will continue posting on various topics related to this process and answer any relevant questions that I get. If you would like to ask a question or make a comment you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment in the drop box on the home page of my Weebly.