The goal of guidelines is to establish consistency while still allowing some degree of autonomy for teachers to make appropriate adjustments at the classroom level. No grading system is perfect and all grading systems are impacted by extraneous, non-academic factors. Our goal is to limit the impact of extraneous factors as much as possible while still allowing flexibility. We also want to, as much as possible, lean toward creating advantages for students not disadvantages. We are not trying to create a "tougher" grading scale. We are trying to create a more accurate, more effective, more fair, and more consistent grading model. With that in mind, the staff settled on these Guidelines for Grading:
1. All course grades should be related to achievement of course content standards. This is not a standards based system. It is a step toward a standards based system. What we are saying is that grades should be related to learning not work completion, behavior, attendance, and other such non-learning factors.
2. At least 80% of the final course grade should be derived from summative assessment designed to measure student proficiency in course content standards (major tests, performance tasks, projects, essays). We already require at CPHS that 80% of the final grade be based on assessment of student learning. 80% will now be set as the minimum allowing more flexibility for teachers. It is also very important to note that "assessment" does not mean the same thing as "test." An assessment is any task designed to demonstrate student understanding of content or student ability to perform a task.
3. Students must be required to complete all summative assessments. A penalty of up to 1pt may be assessed for late work. It is not appropriate to assign a grade for an assessment unless the student completes the assessment. Very simply, we cannot know what the student knows or is able to do unless the student completes an assessment.
4. Up to 20% of the final course grade may be derived from practice or other coursework (daily work, homework, quizzes/formative assessments). Again, this guideline is similar to what is already in place at CPHS. Currently, we require 80% of each grade be based on assessment and 20% of each grade on "other work." Now we are giving teachers more flexibility to determine what is appropriate in terms of the grade weight distribution.
5. Teachers should not grade all practice (formative assessment) - students should be permitted the opportunity to practice and learn without fear that their performance on practice activities might lower the overall grade. This is probably the most controversial and complicated of the proposed guidelines. We are not suggesting that students should not get credit for the classwork or homework that they do. We are suggesting that teachers should not base the credit entirely on the degree of accuracy, but on the students effort instead. Any work that is not an assessment should be intended to help students learn. We should expect that students will not always do well on the activities intended to help them learn a concept and we should use that as an opportunity to teach. Many grading systems disadvantage students for trying to learn and , as a result, encourage cheating. If I am punished for being wrong, I want to find a way to make sure I am correct. We should encourage student to engage in trial and error while they are doing the learning while giving them credit for the work that they do.
6. Teachers should use professional judgement when determining the homework/practice grade. This means very simply that it is not necessary for the teacher to score homework very specifically and come up with some type of percentage grade for each assignment. The teacher should review the formative work and provide instructive feedback to the student based on the work. The score should be based on pre-established criteria and related primarily to whether or not the student has engaged appropriately in the learning activity. Did they attempt to do what they were supposed to do in order to learn what they were supposed to learn?
7. Non-academic factors should be evaluated, but should not impact the course grade. We want to provide parents and student with useful information about why students are or are not learning appropriately, but we don't want those factors to impact the final grade. The final grade should be a reflection of what the student has mastered.
8. The only appropriate extra-credit is to allow students to complete any work not previously completed or reassess any standard at any time. No other extra-credit is permissible. Extra-credit is adding points without accounting for them in the system - it is grade inflation and it renders the scale invalid in terms of measuring student learning.
Although I intended to cover the Rubric, Scale, and GPA as well, this entry has gotten a bit long. I will cover the remainder of the grading proposal in the next blog and I will talk about what I've seen this summer as I've been converting 2013 second semester grades using the new proposed guidelines in future blogs- it has been a very interesting and surprising process.