Current Policy - AR 5121



Our Journey

The transition to a TK-12 aligned standards-based grading policy is the culmination of several years of growth and development through our continued commitment to provide equity and access for all students. Our elementary schools have utilized a standards-based reporting system for nearly a decade, and as a district, we have focused on the development of “guaranteed and viable curriculum” across all grade levels for the past three years. In 2018, we furthered our standards-based alignment by identifying critical concepts and proficiency scales for ELA and math, and expanded this work into other subject areas through our research and development teams and pilot programs for core content areas. 

As we ended the 2019-20 school year and looked ahead to 20-21, we hosted a number of stakeholder think tanks to help plan for a successful reopening after the emergency school closures. One of those think tanks was focused primarily on assessment, feedback, and grading. Overwhelmingly the participants from that think tank felt it was necessary for our students to have consistent, district-wide expectations across content areas and grade levels that encourage demonstration of mastery in a variety of ways, and include student voice and agency in the feedback and assessment process. 

In July 2020, our board passed the Freedom Summer 2020 Resolution in response to the call for social justice, and identified the need to revise our grading policy to interrupt inequitable grading practices and by removing nonacademic factors from the academic grade and focusing on the mastery of standards. After the Freedom Summer 2020 Resolution announcement, feedback sessions which included administrators, teachers, counselors, students, and parents, met to 

collectively engage and collaborate on the development of the current grading policy. Research-based grading practices from Grading for Equity and A School Leader’s Guide to Standards-Based Grading were also incorporated to ensure that we included the following in the revised policy: 

  • Clearly defined and distinguished academic marks from citizenship marks
  • Opportunities for revision and reassessment, and
  • Inclusion of specific, actionable feedback for students and parents on progress towards mastery of standards

The Main Shifts in Policy and Practice: Board-Approved AR 5121

Our intention of providing equitable grading practices is communicated at the very beginning of our revised policy on page 1, paragraph 3 where it states that “academic grades shall be based solely on students’ current levels of mastery of the Board-adopted standards and shall not be influenced by behavior or nonacademic measures. Academic grades shall use multiple means to assess mastery and will include opportunities for reflection, revision, and reassessment in order to ensure the mastery of grade level standards for all students. Academic grades shall reflect progress towards standards and not quantity of assignments completed.”

In order to clearly communicate progress towards mastery of standards to both students and parents, revised academic mark definitions in the chart on page 2 use a standards-based approach to indicate if students are exceeding, meeting, approaching, beginning, or demonstrating little to no progress towards mastery of standards. In addition to these revised definitions “grade reports shall reflect current levels of student learning and include comments documenting progress towards mastery of Board-adopted standards.”

One of the biggest shifts in the revised policy is the removal of non-academic factors from the academic grade and the inclusion of those factors inside of the citizenship grade. As stated on page 3 of the policy “citizenship marks are reflections of the student’s general behavior, punctuality, effort, and work habits within the school community.” Citizenship marks have been readjusted to a 4-point scale with clear indicators on how students can move from one level to the next.

Along with the revisions to the academic and citizenship marks, the academic honesty policy utilized by our secondary schools on pages 14 and 15 has been rewritten to align with a restorative approach rather than a punitive approach by requiring sites to establish a “leveled system of response to allow students an opportunity to reflect on the incident, repair trust, and establish academic or social/emotional supports as needed.”

 If students or parents/guardians have questions regarding progress towards mastery of academic or citizenship standards, they should communicate directly with the classroom teacher. Students and parents are also highly encouraged to utilize the PowerSchool Portal to view academic grades, assignment scores, teacher comments, and grade reports. If there is an issue regarding an academic or citizenship grade, students or parents/guardians should contact the teacher to try to resolve the issue prior to contacting school administration.