DVUSD Beliefs about Grading and Reporting
DVUSD believes that a comprehensive standards-based mindset and grading system, which reports what students know and can do relative to standards, can facilitate clearer, more targeted feedback compared to traditional letter grades. This is accomplished by such practices as reporting academic achievement separate from behaviors, tying assessment and grading exclusively to standards, prioritizing the most recent evidence of learning, and allowing for editing and resubmission of work (Swan, Guskey, & Jung, 2014). Standards-based grading principles also favor median versus mean scores, proficiency-based rubrics versus percentages, and a balance of quality formative and summative assessments (McTighe & O’Connor, 2005; Munoz & Guskey, 2015; O’Connor, 2010; Reeves, 2004).
Being standards-based means that every teacher, in every classroom, every day, through this continuous teaching/learning mindset, ensures students learn all standards and associated concepts and skills to mastery and know what standards they can continue to improve upon. Through PLC teams and teacher collaboration, this takes focus and fidelity to a relentless cycle of teaching and learning along with hard work, persistence, and strategic use of time and resources. In its simplest terms, a standards-based teaching/learning mindset continually answers four critical questions, adapted from Dufour & Eaker (1998, 2002, 2006):
- What do students need to know, understand, and be able to do?
- How do we teach effectively to ensure all students are learning?
- How do we know students are learning?
- What do we do when students are not learning or are reaching mastery before expectations?
Standards-based grading is based on the principle that grades should convey how well students have achieved standards. In other words, grades are not about what students earn; they are about what students learn.
Watch this video to learn more about the reasons behind the district's grading practices updates.
To ensure grades provide a more accurate reflection of what students know and can do in relation to standards, a standards-based mindset and aligned grading is based on several core principles.
- First, a grade should represent the degree to which a student has demonstrated mastery of a clearly defined set of standards (Brookhart, 2009; Marzano, 2000; Popham, 2011; Wiggins, 1998) rather than a norm-referenced or relative approach in which students are compared to other students. State standards are the focus of planning, instruction, and evaluation.
- Second, performance in relation to standards should be defined using clearly articulated descriptors on a scale of four or five levels rather than with a percentage system based on the accumulation of a number of points (Guskey, 2011). Student proficiency of standards is the target.
- Third, factors that influence a grade, but are not directly related to student mastery of a standard, should be considered separately for grading purposes (Guskey, 2011). Such factors include lateness, effort, attendance, and the use of extra credit to “boost” a grade. These factors only serve to confuse the true performance of the student. Reduce the impact of behaviors on grades.
- Fourth, a grade should reflect how much a student has learned and not when they learned it, meaning, the most recent and/or consistent evidence of a student’s understanding should be considered over a simple averaging of performance on tests and assignments over the course of a year or semester. Consider both the most recent and most frequent performances when determining a final course grade.
- Fifth, students should not be penalized for practice, meaning, not all assignments should be factored into a student’s grade (Fisher, Frey, & Pumpian, 2011). Homework, practice problems, or other types of formative assessment should be used for feedback, but not to determine a final grade, because they reflect a students’ developing understanding and not their final understanding, which should be measured using summative assessments. With the mastery of learning targets and performance standards, only select assessments addressing specific standards are graded and recorded.
- Sixth, students are encouraged to continue learning and practicing until it is possible to pass each standard with proficiency. Reporting grades in this manner shares explicitly the areas of strength and weakness of each student and removes from the calculation all non-academic factors (Guskey et al., 2011). Grades tied to standards become a key indicator to identify which students need targeted MTSS and additional intervention to achieve competency in essential standards.
To learn more about the DVUSD grading policies, see the menu on the left or use the following links: