Schools implementing new grading system

Written by Don Iler, Pilot staff writer August 23, 2013 06:25 pm

The Brookings-Harbor School District will be implementing a new grading system across its three schools, called “standards-based grading.” 

The new system is a departure from the traditional A through F system that is the norm at most American schools and, while the new system will be applied to all grades at all schools, it will only be applied to math and language arts this year, with other subjects to be added in the future.

“It provides a platform to understand where kids stand academically and whether they are conforming to the Common Core state standards,” said Larry Martindale, principal of Brookings-Harbor High School. 

Standards-based grading is intended to show whether or not students meet Common Core standards, a set of national standards in core subjects, such as math and language arts, that have been adopted nationwide by 45 states, the District of Columbia and four territories. The standards, adopted by the Oregon legislature in 2011, aim to provide more conformity in the level and quality of education from state to state.

 The grades are based on whether students meet the standards, and their level of understanding of the material. The designations students could receive, from highest to lowest, are:

Mastery of Standards — Shows that the student has mastered the skill, and not only understands it, but is able to connect it and make applications to other subject areas and topics.

Exceeds Standards — Means that the student is proficient in the skill and has taken it to the next level, but has not made the connections to other subject material.

Proficient — Means the student understands the basic skill, but cannot take it further.

Not Proficient — Means the student does not meet the standard.

Insufficient Data — Means the student was either absent, did not take the test or there is not enough data to determine whether the student is proficient in the subject. 

Those not proficient in subjects will be given remedial help to get them to meet the standards, which could be evaluated in a variety of ways, from tests to research papers to projects. 

The grades are determined through “rubrics,” a standard set of knowledge students should know, and information entered by teachers into a computer system. Parents and students will receive report cards that tell them in which areas the student is struggling and in which ones he or she is excelling. They will be far bigger than previous report cards and give more detail on the child’s progress. 

“The rubrics gives us a defined level of what students to meet,” said Wendy Ross, teacher on special assignment for the school district. “What they’re supposed to do is standardized, and teachers have a list of standards.”

The new grades will be available on the parent portal on the Internet starting on Oct. 21, and the schools are planning to explain the system further during open houses.

“They don’t just get a single letter grade, they get a list of all the pieces of the different things we want kids to know about,” said Sheryl Lipski, principal of Azalea Middle School.

According to administrators, the new grading system will not affect students applying to colleges. The new grades will be converted to standard A through F letter grades for transcripts sent along with college applications. 

Parents with questions about the new standards-based grading should contact their child’s teachers. 

School starts Sept. 3 for Brookings-Harbor schools.