Standards, Targets, and Grading
When learning something new, such as riding a bike, it helps to see someone put that new skill or concept into action, then try it out, gain experience and receive feedback, learn from it, and try again. Working through a collaborative process that allows for students to improve and make progress helps a student develop a deeper understanding of the skill, concept, or power standard.
Eastern Carver County Schools works to develop teaching strategies that encourage students to take more active roles, such as this, in their learning. Following a collaborative learning process, teachers assess student learning using a learning target. This assessment gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their learning and also informs the teacher of the student’s level of learning. At this point, if students are not meeting the learning target goal, teachers continue to support the student’s learning through a variety of instructional strategies and interventions, which may or may not conclude in an opportunity for a reassessment or participate in another opportunity to demonstrate learning. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Grading and reporting practices should be used to support learners. At Eastern Carver County Schools, we do this by using practices that reflect academic achievement and learning progress. This is foundational to personalized learning. What happens in the classroom, and in gradebooks, is centered around creating relevant and meaningful learning opportunities for all students.
Grades reflect student learning, which is the focus of our work. Our grading system shows what a student has learned, and can be used by students to reflect on what they’ve learned and where they can continue to grow. No two learners are alike, and our approach to grading supports ongoing learning, when necessary, through multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of a subject.
Students have multiple learning opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge. Teachers will deliver feedback so that learners know their current level of understanding and where there is room for growth. Working together, teachers and students identify gaps in learning, and develop a plan for how best to demonstrate when those gaps have been closed. For some students, this might be a traditional retake, for others a different method of assessment.
Grading Parameters for Grades 6-12
Eastern Carver County Schools is committed to ensuring that all students reach their personal best. Guidelines concerning how and what we grade are in place at both the high school and middle school levels to support that mission. For the past several years, our teachers and leaders have engaged in continuous improvement to increase the efficacy and consistency of our grading practices. We are driven by the following key assumptions:
Grades should accurately reflect how much a student has learned in relation to course standards.
The calculation of grades should be clearly understood by parents and students.
Students differ from each other in many ways. Grading practices should accommodate for, and capitalize on, those differences.
Productive learning behaviors (such as work completion, self-advocacy, and attention to detail) support high levels of learning, but they do not guarantee it.
These assumptions have been the driving force behind a number of grading changes that have been implemented across the state and in ECCS over the past few years, specifically:
Grades based mostly or entirely on learning that is demonstrated by way of tests and projects (or, “performance” assignments), with daily work and homework (i.e. “practice”) accounting for much less or none of the final grade calculation.
Opportunities to retake tests and redo projects and essays to ensure that students master the material.
Scoring late work on its quality and not deducting for time, knowing that some students may take longer to master the material.
No extra credit or points for participation.
Changes for the 2021-2022 School Year (Middle and High School)
As a data-driven district, we monitor the success of our initiatives and continuously make adjustments based on what we have learned. A few problems with our approach were identified by teachers and families, and so we are implementing some changes this year:
Issue: Students don’t always see the connection between practice work and learning; practice work completion had fallen off in some areas when it no longer had a large impact on the final grade. As a result, student performance on summative assessments began to decrease as students were not doing the practice work in preparation.
Teachers have more freedom to include practice work in the final grade calculation, knowing that an impact on the final grade will motivate some students to complete it.
In addition, parents have shared that they want more timely notifications when student task completion is falling off. To that end, teachers will be asked to mark an assignment as missing (M) or turned in (T) within two class periods of its due date. Parents and students will see an M on Parent Portal to indicate missing, and a T to indicate turned in but not yet graded. Eventually, the T will be replaced by the score.
However, failure to complete those learning tasks should not overshadow how well the student learns. If, at the end of the semester, a student’s grade just on tests, projects, and other end-of-unit measures of learning (which is denoted as the “summative” category, or the “performance”) is higher than the cumulative, in-progress grade with classwork, homework, and other practice assignments factored in, teachers have been instructed to post the higher score as the final grade. In other words, a student’s score on practice work can only have a positive impact on their grade.
For example, in the table above, Student A earns a C+ on tests and projects, and the work on homework pulls her grade to a B-. She ends up with a B- on her report card and transcript. However, Student B has earned an A- on tests and projects, but a lower percentage on homework, therefore pulling his cumulative, in-progress grade to a B-. At the end of the semester, Student B would be given the grade he earned on tests and projects, an A-.
Issue: For too many students, retakes and late work are not a path to better learning and achievement, but a spiral where work piles up and leads to a rush at the end of the semester, causing undue stress on the student and little chance of success.
To ensure that performance is better on the second attempt of a test, we are re-affirming the need for more learning work to be completed before the test is retaken. Students will be asked to complete extra practice before another attempt at the performance and will be asked to do so within a window of time determined by teachers.
To ensure that the majority of student energy is spent on the work currently being done in class, retakes should be on a short timeline determined by the teachers and limited to one second attempt per summative assessment.
Late projects and essays should be on a similarly short timeline.
To emphasize the importance of learning (and not just task completion), late homework, classwork, and other practice work will only be accepted up until the assessment that ends that unit, such as a final test or project. Once that is complete, assignments and tasks from that unit can only be turned in if they are serving as the “extra practice” that is required before the retake. Once the window for retakes is closed, those learning tasks are no longer eligible to be turned in.
To emphasize the importance of learning in time for the next unit of study, late summative assessments will serve as the retake opportunity for students. If a student misses the original test date for an unexcused reason, the make-up test will serve as the retake and the student will not be offered a second attempt at the summative assessment.
These broad principles will guide our grading work this year but will not account for every situation. All families are encouraged to stay in communication with their teachers and principals.
The following scenarios illustrate how these changes will show up in specific situations:
Scenario 1: Student C did not perform as well as she would have liked on an assessment that took place in February. However, she did not take advantage of the retake opportunity during the window of time outlined by her teacher. Now, in April, she wishes she would have taken advantage of the retake window and opportunity. However, that window is closed and there is no expectation that the teacher will reopen the opportunity. Instead, the student should focus on the current learning tasks that are available to her.
Scenario 2: Student D did not do all of the formative learning tasks for a unit and did not perform well on the summative assessment. He is planning to do the missing formative work as part of his ‘extra practice’ before he retakes the summative assessment, which will happen in the window that the teacher has outlined. This student will receive credit for doing the formative tasks, because they were completed before the re-take opportunity window closed. The student will also, like all students who complete a retake, receive the higher of the two scores (original score vs. retake score)
Scenario 3: Student E realizes at the end of the term that he did not turn in a formative learning task for a unit that occurred earlier in the term. The retake opportunity for the earlier unit has since closed. Because the window has closed, this student will not receive credit for this late assignment.
Scenario 4: Student F skips class on the day of a summative assessment so that she can get extra study time (to be clear, this is a practice that school administrators do not condone). The student then takes the assessment, which is a different version than the one the other students took, within the retake window. The student will receive that score, but will NOT be eligible for a retake opportunity, as late assessments serve as the retake opportunity.
Grading Parameters for Grades K-5
Families can see the academic progress of their elementary student through Infinite Campus Parent Portal. Within a course, there will be anywhere from one to several power standards that are reported in the Grades area of Campus Portal. Power standards are the highest priority or most important standards students will learn in a course.
Report cards are posted in Campus Portal at the end of the school year.