DANVILLE — Danville Local Schools is in the process of switching their grading system for all their students from the traditional grading system to standards-based grading.
Tuesday night, Robert Miller, the curriculum director, gave an informal meeting for parents to answer questions and help them understand the current grading standards being implemented as a part of standards-based grading. Standards-based grading, SBG, is an intentional way for teachers to track students’ progress and achievements. Unlike the traditional grading scale, SBG does not use the ABCDF grading scale. Instead, it focuses on a student’s knowledge of standards and if they understand those standards. As the school continues with this transition, and learn as they practice it, letter grades will still be given until the school district is prepared to make the next steps.
Miller said for example if a student receives a ‘B’ in a class, they don’t know the areas they are struggling in. With SBG, they can see if they are struggling in certain areas by seeing all the standards required for that class.
Miller spoke to the News beforehand explaining how the school decided to change their grading system. A district leadership team was formed, doing research and visiting other schools where SBG is used. Part of the reason for the switch, Miller said, was that they “didn’t see a connection between the ACT and the grade point averages in the classroom.”
He gave an example of how a 4.0 student will only get a 21 on the ACT. This student may appear to be doing well and understanding concepts, but are they really retaining the information they are learning.
“Is your child more interested in earning a grade?” he said. “Are they more interested in just getting that ‘A,’ just passing? Or are they interested in actually learning the content and actually knowing what’s going so when they go to the next grade level, they are prepared.”
Miller mentioned that they wanted to focus on each state standard individually and teach students the expectations. This means that, when they fully transfer to this system, K-8 students’ report cards will show what standards the students exceeds, meets, or doesn’t meet. At the high school level, students will still receive letter grades but those grades will be based on standards-based referencing. This means that they will still learn the state standards but how they meet, or don’t meet them, will correlate with a letter grade. How this will be done is still in the process of being worked on.
“Each school has their own challenges,” Miller said. “So, a set way of doing SBG isn’t clear. A school has to learn what works best for them.”
Because the switch to SBG is intense, Miller said they have laid out a three year plan to fully implement these changes in the school. There are things that still need work, such as when students will be doing the relearning and reteaching.
This year they have made a few changes, which Miller talked about to the parents. These changes were instituted as “fixes” for broken grades he and the leadership team saw in the score. The big question he asked is “how confident are you that the grades students get at the school” are accurate, consistent, meaningful, and are they being supported as learners?
The biggest change this year the grades reported will be 100% summative. This means that grades from homework, quizzes, and other materials won’t count towards their summative grade, the grade they receive at the end of the grading period. Parents, and students, will still be able to see these formative assigns in Powerschool. If a student receives a 70% or lower on a chapter test, they are required to attend relearning and retest on the material. Any student may retest if they receive a lower score, but they have to go through the relearning. Retesting is allowed only once per task and may be taken partially, entirely, or in a different format. For students in K-3, they will only be retested in Reading and Math. End of the course, quarterly exams, final research papers, reporters, essays, culminating projects and performances cannot be retested.
“We don’t want to punish (students) while they’re learning,” Miller said about this big change.
Several of the “fixes” deal with not including a students behavior towards their grades. This includes not counting participation towards the grade, no points off for turning in late work, and attendance is reported separately from grading. Instead, if a student is turning in late work, Miller said, they will offer them support.
Other areas that are changing are no extra credit will be given, no group scores (a student will be graded on their individual work in the group), no zeros will be counted in grades, and no reduced grades for academic dishonesty. Instead of zeros for incomplete work and points off for academic dishonesty, the school will allow for the students to retest and relearn the subjects helping them redo their scores.
Miller said consistent late work will be addressed with a behavioral consequence. Academic dishonesty for K-5 will have behavioral consequences and for those in 6-12 will be addressed by teachers and administration.
When adding these into the grading, Miller said that it inflates the grade and sends mixed signals to the kids and the parents.
“So it distorts the level of achievement,” he said. “(The students) think they’re doing ‘A’ work, they’re doing ‘B’ work. But all these other factors are in there and it’s distorting, it’s inflating the grades. … But is there actual achievement at that level?”
On the flip side, he said that when a student turns a “A” level work in late and receives a “D,” it also distorts the grades. When a student think what’s the point in turning in late work, it distorts the grade. By removing them from summative grades, it will reflect how the students are actually doing in accordance to the standards set by the state.
Danville will be the only district in the county that uses SBG and standards based reference for the whole district. Fredericktown uses SBG is their K-3 classes with third-graders receiving letters grade at the end of their third and fourth nine weeks. Highland school district use SBG in their K-8 students.
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