Grading for Learning
Frequently Asked Questions
Why did Grandview make this change?
As educators we agree that grades should be based on what students know and can do in the classroom in relation to the standards set forth by the Colorado Department of Education. What we found to be the case was that our grades were often a mixed bag of achievement scores, practice (homework, class work, worksheets), and behavior-related assignments (i.e., signed syllabi, bell starters, completion work, participation, dressing out). We want to ensure that students’ grades are an accurate measure of their academic achievement.
What is the difference between a formative assessment and a summative assessment?
A formative assessment is an assessment for learning (practice and feedback), while a summative grade is an assessment of learning (what did the student actually “summatively” learn). Teachers have discretion regarding what is considered formative and summative in their classes. Summative scores are what are calculated into the final grade.
Are summative assessments only multiple-choice tests?
No. As stated above, summative assessments are determined by each teacher and can be, but are not limited to, the following:
- Multiple-choice tests
Is there still a 4.0 grading system? Is there still a class rank?
There is still a 4.0 GPA grading system. The change is that now, when a letter grade is assigned in a class to a student at the end of a marking period (end of a unit or a semester), that letter grade is as pure an indicator as possible of the academic achievement of that student, rather than a letter grade that has behaviors or other possible factors mixed in that likely distort the level of achievement.
There is also still class rank. Class rank is based on GPA, which is still factored.
How do I know how my student’s teachers are calculating grades?
Teachers have a description in PowerSchool that explains how grades are calculated in that particular class.
How does this impact homework and the 0% weight to homework?
Homework is still regularly assigned by teachers. This answer comes down to the purpose of homework. If the purpose is to practice a skill that the student has learned but needs to refine in preparation for an upcoming assessment, the homework should not be included in the grade. Individual students have the flexibility to practice what they need to master the content.
If the purpose of homework is to introduce a new concept/skill that will be addressed in an upcoming class, the homework would not be included in the grade. The reason for this is that it is not appropriate to grade a student on an assignment when prior instruction has not taken place. Rather, the student’s performance on this particular assignment would be formative in nature, and it would guide the teacher in planning instruction.
If the purpose of the homework is to work on a project that takes multiple days to complete (i.e., a research paper or a presentation), or to finish an assignment that did not get completed in class, it is up to the individual teacher how this particular assignment is included in the overall grade. Perhaps, the assignment is deemed a summative assessment where percentage points and a letter grade will be determined (i.e., a take-home essay). Teachers have discretion in determining what is considered summative and therefore calculated into the final grade.
Why aren’t you giving points for homework?
Homework typically is practice of the skill recently taught. Grading homework for accuracy unjustly penalizes those students who need more time and practice to learn. Simply awarding points for completing an assignment reflects behavior rather than learning. The heart of our grading policy is that grades reflect learning, not necessarily behavior.
Why should my child do his/her practice if he/she isn’t getting any points for it?
For nearly all students, practice is necessary for success, and there is a direct correlation between the two. Students need to do practice work assigned to attain proficiency in the course objectives. A crucial component of the teaching and learning cycle is that students receive appropriate and timely feedback about their progress from their teachers. Completing practice work provides teachers the opportunity to give feedback to students on their progress toward the unit/course objectives and provide them with specific ways to improve prior to the summative assessment for the unit/course. If students do not complete their practice work, they do not necessarily give themselves the opportunity to receive feedback on their progress from their teachers.
Why are teachers encouraged to offer retakes on summative assessments when students may not be afforded this same opportunity in college?
Our goal is to ensure that all students enter a post-secondary learning environment with the necessary skills for success in their future pursuits. These skills are clearly articulated as Colorado’s “Prepared Graduate Competencies,” on which our Colorado State Standards are based. When students are not successful demonstrating mastery of a competency on their first attempt, it is our belief that they are more likely to be successful in the future – both at Grandview and after graduating – if they revisit the content or skill and learn it. Then, because grades reflect learning, students and parents should expect the grade to increase accordingly.
That said, reassessment opportunities are not “freebies” – students are expected to demonstrate they have completed additional practice on the content or skill prior to reassessing. This additional practice may take a different form than the initial opportunities in order to tap into students’ various learning styles. Long term, the objective is for each student to be masters of their own learning, with an acute self-awareness of how they learn best and what it feels like to master a concept, ultimately eliminating the necessity of reassessments.
This seems like Standards-Based Grading. How is it different?
As a team, we have taken the basic tenets of Standards-Based Grading (SBG) regarding assessing student learning based on the standards of the course and only calculating achievement in the final grade, but we are using our traditional 1-100% scale in classes and the traditional A-F scale on report cards and transcripts.
How does this scale impact college entrance?
Our grading scale remains unchanged; only the components of what are calculated into the final letter grade have changed. Thus, colleges will receive the same information about our students with the assurance that Grandview students’ grades are an accurate measure of their knowledge. Our school profile and our goals remain consistent.
According to many admissions officers, colleges and universities evaluate students’ transcripts in context, meaning that they realize different schools grade differently and that an A in a particular class from one high school may not have the same meaning as an A in a similar class from another school. They want to see that a student has challenged himself/herself to the highest extent possible in the context of his/her particular school and has achieved the outcomes that are understood relative to other students in that particular school.