Grades

Your up-to-date course grade is available to view using your login to Family Access / Skyward. If you don't know your password or login name, please contact Mindy Rude in the main office.

The grade that shows in Skyward is your current course grade, but it doesn't tell the whole story. Your achievement in this course will not be measured in accumulated points from tests, quizzes, and homework, as is common in many classes. Instead, you (the student) will work with me (the teacher) to demonstrate your proficiency in various learning standards.  This system of assessment is commonly known as Standards-Based Grading, or SBG.   Because SBG is new to most of us, some explanation is needed up front.

As you look at your Skyward grade, you should notice that there are a number of different types of grades:
  • Summative grades are scored out of 100 pts each and they make up 100% of your course grade. These are the assessments that follow each of our class units, where students present their ideas about the standard we've been working with. Each assessment consists of three separate graded areas: 
    • Social Studies Strand -- either Civics, Economics, Geography, or History
    • Social Studies Skills -- the skills needed to learn, understand, and explain social studies concepts
    • Writing Skills -- the skills needed to convey ideas clearly in writing
    • Historical Knowledge -- basic information that each student should know about the time periods we study
  • Formative grades are scored out of 10 or 5 or 3 points. They provide information about how well prepared you are to complete the Summative assessments. They carry no weight in calculating your grade, but a great deal of weight preparing you to do well on the Summative assessments. These include in-class activities, homework, quizzes, and other activities designed to help students learn the material they will need to use while discussing the larger questions of history. Depending on the size and scope of the assignment, the point value may change, but can all be converted to the 5 levels used to describe any work:
  10 pt assignment    5 pt assignment 3 pt assignment
4 = Advanced
9-105 
3 = Proficient7-843
2 = Needs Improvement5-632
1 = Incomplete1-41-21
0 = Missing00

  • Responsibility grades help show whether major assignments are completed on time or not, and whether basic activities related to good academic performance are carried out in a responsible manner. Like the formative grades, these are not calculated into the course grade. These are scored following a simple scale:
    • 2 = completed on time
    • 1 = completed, but late
    • 0 = missing
Here's a graphic representation of how the individual assignments and assessments create the student's course grade: 

One of our favorite features of a Standards Based Grading system is that it specifically assesses the standards and, if necessary, provides more than one opportunity for students to show evidence of your learning. Students have multiple opportunities to show their understanding of key concepts, and are not penalized if it takes them multiple attempts to master the material. Before retaking a test or rewriting an assessment, students will be asked to show what they have done to learn what they hadn't learned the first time. But retakes and rewrites are given full weight in the grade book, though the comment "Retake" will appear to show that it is not the first attempt. This can provide some valuable feedback to the student, teacher, and parent. If a student consistently needs more than one attempt to show his or her understanding at an acceptable level, why? What might be changed in the way that the student works with information or approaches an assessment to make a stronger FIRST attempt next time. While a dedicated and determined approach toward retakes should be celebrated, it is also an area to be explored for improvement.

Because students have many chances to demonstrate their learning, and have multiple chances to improve on past scores, the expectations for grading are fairly high. Grading standards for summative assessments are provided before the assessment begins, and students have opportunities to use the scoring guides as checklists to make sure they don't miss important elements. Extra help at lunch is always available as is help afterschool or before school if necessary. No extra credit is available, but retakes are always encouraged. 

Why use SBG

You’re probably used to seeing grades like B+ or 92% or “Pass” to indicate grades on school assignments, but such grades really don’t tell you much about what a student has actually learned. For example, on a 25 question test, two students could have identical scores of 72%, but actually understand the tested material quite differently. In fact, if the two students missed different questions, they may agree on as few as 11 of the 25 questions. So clearly they understand the material quite differently. But their grades are the same.

This aspect of traditional grading is one reason SBG is so different and, we think, so much better. Using SBG, each graded element is clearly connected to the standard that it is meant to assess. So students with the same “grade” on an assessment really understand the material at the same level. And that helps the students, and the teachers, find ways to move forward together to improve the desired understanding.

            First, let’s discuss the scale by which your efforts will be assessed. To measure your understanding, we will be using a four-tiered system for Standards and Learning Goals similar to this one from Frank Noschese:


Level 4 = Advanced. Indicators include:

·   I understand the content/skills completely and can explain them in detail.

·   I can explain/teach the skills to another student.

·   I have high confidence on how to do the skills.

·   I can have a conversation about the content/skills.

·   I can independently demonstrate extensions of my knowledge.

·   My responses demonstrate in-depth understanding of main ideas and of related details.

Level 3 = Proficient. Indicators include:

·   I understand the important things about the content/skills.

·   I have confidence on how to do the skills on my own most of the time, but I need to continue practicing some parts that still give me problems.

·   I need my handouts and notes once in a while.

·   I am proficient at describing terms and independently connecting them with concepts.

·   My responses demonstrate in-depth understanding of main ideas.

Level 2 = Developing. Indicators include:

·   I have a general understanding of the content/skills, but I’m also confused about some important parts.

·   I need some help from my teacher (one-on-one or small group) to do the skills correctly.

·   I do not feel confident enough to do the skills on my own.

·   I need my handouts and notes most of the time.

·   I can correctly identify concepts and/or define vocabulary; however I cannot make connections among ideas and/or independently extend my own learning.

·   My responses demonstrate basic understanding of some main ideas, but significant information is missing.

Level 1 = Beginning. Indicators include:

·   I need lots of help from my teacher (one-on-one).

·   I have low confidence on how to do the skills and need more instruction.

·   I need my handouts and notes at all times.

·   I do not understand the concept/skills.

·   I cannot correctly identify concepts and/or define vocabulary.

·   I cannot make connections among ideas or extend the information.

·   My responses lack detail necessary to demonstrate basic understanding.

Level 0 = No Basis

·   I do not provide any responses for which a judgment can be made about my understanding.

(In other words: I haven’t turned anything in)


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Peter Knowles,
Sep 5, 2011, 7:25 AM
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Peter Knowles,
Aug 31, 2011, 5:23 AM
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