GRADING, REPORTING, & RECOGNITION SYSTEM GUIDELINES
The NH Minimum Standards for School Approval require that school districts have a competency assessment process and defined course level competencies in place for high school. (Click here for NH Department of Education Memo clarifying this requirement.)
Credit toward graduation is to be awarded based on student demonstration of mastery of these course level competencies. Although competency is primarily a high school requirement at this time, it is anticipated that competencies, based on content standards, will eventually move to the middle and elementary school levels.
A competency is defined as a student's ability to transfer content knowledge and skills in/and or across content areas. Each content area has a set of big ideas unique to its content area which can be applied within the content area and/or across other content areas. For example, the idea of systems is unique to science, yet can be applied within science and other content areas. (Click here for EHS Course Syllabus Exemplar which contains District and Course Competencies.)
Each course will have approximately 5 to 10 course competency statements such as "students will understand that ..." or "students will demonstrate the ability to ..." which are developed based on the state content standards. Each course competency statement will also relate to one or more of the "District Competencies for Learning" which articulate the district learning expectations as required for middle and high school accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The foundation for this work has been completed, although it is recognized that these competencies will evolve as needed. (Click here for "District Competencies for Learning.")
The next step of our work is the development of a report card that communicates student progress on the district and course competencies which students must demonstrate competency to receive high school credit. This is a significant change from the traditional method in which high school credit is awarded based on receiving a passing grade. (Click here for approved EHS Report Card.)
In preparation for this work research was conducted on best grading and reporting practice and samples of other high school reports and guidelines. Draft reporting and grading guidelines were shared with the District Leadership Team and EHS Teachers for comment. This work led to a discussion on what is competent as competency is the foundation on which EHS must award course credit. The following definition of competency came out of this work.
- Advanced – understands key concepts and skills and applies with consistency and independence
- Beyond Competent – understands key concepts and skills and applies with consistency and effectiveness
- Competent – understands key concepts and skills and is working on applying concepts and skills
- Not Yet Competent – does not yet understand key concepts and skills and is working toward this goal
Recognizing that grading, reporting, and recognition systems are interrelated, our work also included the development of guidelines to govern these practices based on educational research. (Click here for draft District Grading, Reporting, and Recognition System Guidelines.)
- Recognize product, process, and progress criteria play a role in reporting student learning. This guideline sets the foundation for all other guidelines. It recognizes that the learning product represents what students know and are able to do; the learning process affects the learning product, but does not show what students know and are able to do; the learning progress is different for all students as they start the learning process in different places.
- Separate academic achievement from effort and behaviors. This guideline recognizes that academic achievement is mastery of the content while effort and behaviors are the process used by students to learn the content. By incorporating effort and behaviors in the academic grade, the overall grade does not fully represent what a student knows and is able to do. Although it is understood that effort and behaviors affect learning, incorporating these non-academic factors in the overall grade inflate the grade and mask learning issues.
- Define and relate grades to content concept and skills performance standards. This guideline recognizes that grades are based on a student’s mastery of learning standards which are embedded in the District’s curriculum and aligned to state standards. The NH system groups grades K to 8 and 9 to 12 and consistent practices within these grade groupings are essential to transitions from grade to grade.
- Base grades on a body of evidence of student work from multiple assessments. This guideline recognizes that students need multiple opportunities and various different ways in order to demonstrate their learning as not all students learn the same way and at the same rate.
- Use quality assessments. This guideline recognizes the importance of assessments in evaluating student performance. The assessment must evaluate the learning goal that was taught. This guideline also requires assessments to evaluate learning at different levels in order to fully determine the learning level a student is performing.
- Use sound educational practices and professional judgment. Consistency from classroom to classroom, within schools, and across the District is imperative to fully understand a student’s progress. This guideline addresses the issue of different grading and assessment practices. It also recognizes that assessments come in two categories; those that evaluate learning during the learning process and those that evaluate actual learning at the conclusion of the learning period. It requires that the actual learning be the primary component of a student’s grade and that students be given ample opportunity to demonstrate their learning. It also requires students to do the work and provides guidelines for late work, extra credit, and reassessments to encourage student learning.
- Validate student grades to state and national assessment benchmarks for the student’s grade/course level. This guideline requires correlation of grades and recognition systems to benchmarks in order to guard against grade inflation and provide a true representation of student learning level.
- Use an inclusive model for grading, reporting, and recognizing special education students. This guideline recognizes that special education students may receive accommodations and/or modifications. Accommodations do not change the performance standards, but modifications do. In cases of modifications the reporting system must report that student progress is being reported using different performance standards.
- Award high school credit based on meeting course and district competencies. This guideline recognizes the changes in awarding high school credit per the revised Public School Standards. It requires units of study to include course and district competencies, assessments to determine the level of competency, credit to be awarded on achieving competence for all content concept competencies, and a response to intervention based on competency completion. It also sets competency at 70% for each content concept competency. The decision to increase the grade for competency from that of the traditional grading system is twofold. Competent has been defined as understanding key concepts and skills and working toward application. The elimination of excessive grading penalties and the opportunities for reassessment with student initiative will also impact grades.
- Communicate grading, reporting, and recognition systems to students, parents, and other parties. This guideline requires that students and parents know how grades are calculated and that teachers use technology to report student progress.
It is important to note that these guidelines will provide consistency in classrooms across the District, implement best educational practices per research, meet the NH Public School Standards, and meet the requirements for NEASC accreditation. It is without question that these guidelines include some significant changes. However, in talking with teachers some of them are already implementing some of these guidelines. For example, some teachers already offer reassessments. In talking with students it is always about fairness and these guidelines will provide a consistent and fair learning culture for all students.
Although this is a significant change from what we are used to, it is important to note that some things will not change.
- Students will receive student progress reports.
- EHS graduates will receive a transcript.
- Students will still receive an overall grade.
- Effort and attendance will be reported.
- Schools will celebrate learning with an honor roll.
- High school students will have a GPA.
- EHS will celebrate the top ten seniors and select a valedictorian and salutatorian.
- Individual Education Plans will continue to be implemented.