• A Message from Secondary Principals:

    This page is designed to be a resource for families wanting to learn more about the shift in grading practices to full standards-based grading that is happening this fall and into the 2024-25 school year. We thank you for your keen attention to our systems in place and our commitment to making grades more transparent. As an innovative school of choice, we believe we are precisely in a position to bring the best research-based systems into practice here on our campus and community. We'll be continuing our conversations about this work throughout the year, so don’t hesitate to reach out with questions as we engage in this meaningful journey together. 

    Best to you, and here’s to a fantastic school year.

    Kyle Mathews, High School Principal
    Josh Benson, High School Assistant Principal
    Clara Quinlan, Middle School Principal
    Victoria Hankey, Middle School Assistant Principal

     

Philosophy, History and Context

  • For historical purposes, Peak to Peak has implemented standards-based grading (SBG) since 2011. The research supporting this work is well grounded by established and respected educational practitioners including Robert Marzano and Rick Wormeli. The goal is to align grades with mastery of standards and benchmarks rather than grading behavior and also to support growth prior to the end of a given grading period. Marzano’s research establishes that there is little evidence to support traditional grading practices (Marzano, 2000), and as Townsley and Buckmiller write “studies show standards-based teaching practices correlate to higher academic achievement” (Craig, 2011; Schoen, Cebulla, Finn, & Fi, 2003). Standards-based grading has long been the tradition at Peak to Peak as it is a research-based best practice that puts students in the driver’s seat of their own learning.

    All of our grading practices fall under the board approved Policy IKA/IKAA/IKAB. This includes the expectation that all students will receive a letter and percentage grades for all classes at the secondary level. This is true of all secondary classes at Peak to Peak and there is no intention of changing this approach as it is valuable information that students need when applying to college and to measure their mastery of a subject. Additional school policies about grading and re-assessment procedures can be found in the grading policy sections located in the K-12 student handbook which all students and families sign off on at the beginning of each year. The best resources for information about grading are our amazing teachers. All courses are required to have syllabi that answer general questions and instructors are always happy to field your specific questions. At the heart of our grading is the goal of providing students and families with a measurement that is accurate, bias-resistant, and motivational. This is grounded in our use of standards-based grading across secondary classrooms.

    In our previous iterations, gradebooks scored summative assessments at 80% of a student’s grade, including a final examination, plus 20% of homework, class participation and daily assignments. Rubrics have similarly long been in place, and gradebooks have been set up to equate rubric scores into percentages ranging from below 70%-100% (A-F) which helps calculate grade point averages and preparation for college. As you may also recall, this past year our 8th grade courses and 6-12 science department piloted full standards-based grading (FSBG) that focused on mastery of essential learning content/standards, and the use of 100% assessments for gradebooks along with detailed rubrics and feedback on student performance. This shift away from previous grading of homework and behavior, to instead center on learning college ready content and skills, brought about a plethora of conversations that put students in the driver’s seat of their own learning. We want to celebrate this shift away from grade-centric discussions to instead talk about growth, continue our progress on mastery learning, and also continue FSBG implementation across multiple content areas during the 2023-24 school year. That will set us up for all grades and contents to have FSBG in place by the start of next school year. We appreciate your trust and willingness to put the best research available into practice so our students are truly mastering what is set before them prior to heading off to college. 

     

The “Why” Behind This Shift

  • We want to share details of what’s included and why we aim to do this shift so you know what to expect when you talk to your children about grading this spring and next fall. Essentially, we aim to enhance grading practices that reduce the chances of bias in grading and center students on mastery learning. More equitable grading means not only assessing what students know and are able to do, to help pave the way for their best learning, but also allowing students the opportunity to learn and showcase mastery in a variety of ways and at various points in their learning continuum. Previous grading practices frequently emphasize the grading of practice and timeliness over proficiency and mastery of standards. Full standards-based grading includes considerable practice, as has been the norm in our school, but keeps those formative pieces of data as unweighted grades in infinite campus grade books. This allows us to assign different types of homework (practice) to different students and for students to help determine what they need to get to mastery in their own learning. It makes students the agents of their learning. Students get feedback on their work and progress, but only their mastery learning attempts on the standards themselves are what will be formally scored. In some cases, students may not all be ready and able to show mastery at the same time across all spectrums of learning. We want to honor student differences and allow for mastery to happen in the time that works best for each student. Should a student take a summative assessment and not show proficiency or mastery, we want to use that data to inform re-teaching and re-learning opportunities in class and during our office hours appointments where students can get additional, hands-on practice and 1:1 attention from their teachers. We rely on these relationships to foster not only a passion for learning but also to identify where gaps may exist and where content and skills may have been missed or confused. It’s these learning opportunities that are at the heart of FSBG - when a student can show that they not only comprehend the essential content, but they can demonstrate independently how to put their learning into practice on summative assessments, papers, projects, and presentations.

Systems and Procedures

  • Teachers create units of instruction that revolve around the essential learning requirements/standards for their content. Activities are created to highlight what is most important and how to put content and skills into practice. In order to evaluate learning, teachers create rubrics as a centerpiece to each unit in order to explain what proficiency and mastery truly look like on the summative assessments offered during the unit. For example, if mastery learning of a given set of content means “students can provide at least four pieces of evidence to support a claim,” then including four pieces of evidence in a response or on an essay is the requirement to demonstrate mastery for that given standard. Demonstration of advanced mastery in high school classes would equal a four on a 1-4 scale - which is a model used for over a decade at Peak to Peak. The fewer details presented by a student would equate to a lower rubric score in this particular example. It’s these rubrics, scored on a 1-4 scale, that translate into proficiency calculations. 0 means there was no attempt at learning; a one shows limited proficiency; a two shows partial proficiency; a three shows mastery; and a four shows advanced proficiency/advanced mastery. These are then connected to percentages calculated by our gradebooks in Infinite Campus in order to achieve a score or percentage (your As, Bs, Cs and Fs). Here are the following percentages that all teachers will be using for their rubrics:

    • 0 = missed opportunity or not attempted

    • 1 = 55% or incomplete understanding

    • 2 = 70% or partial understanding

    • 3 = 85% or full proficiency

    • 4 = 100% or advanced proficiency/mastery of the content/skills assessed

    Please note that mastery across many standards over the course of the year are averaged to calculate a student’s grade in a course. The grade in a course is not distilled down to one 1-4 score. For a more detailed explanation of this process, please see the instructional video on how our teachers use rubrics. If you would like to see how standards based grading might look on a more traditional test and how it might show up in Infinite Campus, please see this instructional video on student learning and growth.

Norms Across Levels

  • All teachers across levels will have syllabi in place for the semester that show not only the units of instruction on the horizon but also what assignments will be in place as practice or for mastery learning, what assessments will be implemented, and when to expect summative projects, presentations, and papers to be due. Teachers may extend deadlines to meet individual student’s needs and 504 or Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and offer re-assessment opportunities provided students attend at least two office hours sessions and plan retesting with the teacher. If, on the second attempt, mastery is attained, students may earn up to a 4 on the particular standards assessed or 100%. At different school levels, this percentage was previously capped at lower percentages. This is another new change that will benefit our students and their learning. Again, re-assessment requires attendance at office hours to ensure mastery learning has taken place, and a scheduled opportunity to re-assess on the identified standards that need to be mastered. Students earn 1-4 rubric scores to equate to their mastery showcase of learning, and there is no requirement to get to a four on all standards. For example, students earning a mix of three’s and four’s in a given unit may still earn an A by the close of a semester of learning. If there are 10 summative learning pieces in a unit, students who earn seven 3s and three 4s would still earn an A for that unit of instruction.

Next Steps

  • Here is where we are going this fall and in 2024-25. More of our secondary content departments across the 6-12 will be joining our pilot group to put FSBG into practice starting in August. These will include: visual and creative arts, social studies, science, and a range of teachers across other contents including math  (this will appear in their syllabi if participating). However, most of those participating will be building their units one step at a time, as the semesters progress, in order to re-align standards to each unit, craft detailed rubrics by standard for all assigned tasks, standards to each assessment, and standards by unit delineated in Infinite Campus grade books. While teachers may not have every detail prepared prior to the start of the school year, they will be able to project where their courses are going and how students can achieve mastery of the standards included. They will also see how rubrics convert to scores on their assessments and in the gradebook. Office hours will be set up to help students re-learn mastery content and to show mastery learning. Teachers will work side-by-side with our students to help them grow from one point of mastery to the next and from one rubric score to higher levels of proficiency. This partnership will be crucial as we move ahead to help close gaps in learning and implement full standards-based grading systems. 

    By August 2024, all of our content departments will be implementing FSBG in grades 6-12 and in all grade levels and content departments. Across both middle and high school, there will be consistent grading practices with rubrics, consistent implementation of scores, 100% assessment scoring for mastery learning in Infinite Campus grade books, re-assessment opportunities, and norms in office hours offerings for re-teaching and re-learning. It’s the consistent implementation of practices that will help our students and families know what to expect, when to expect it, and how student learning is assessed with growth at the center of our discussions. That’s what we believe will close learning gaps and equitably assess our students with anti-bias measures and procedures built in. Along the way, we’ll need your trust and patience to help us put the best systems and research-based practices into place. That’s who we are and what we do at Peak to Peak.      

     

Resources

  • If you are interested in additional reading opportunities on the topic feel free to check out to following texts:

    Feldman, J. (2019). Grading for equity: What it is, why it matters, and how it can transform schools and classrooms. Corwin, a SAGE Company. 

    Marzano, R. J. (2006). Transforming classroom grading. Hawker Brownlow Education. 

    Wormeli, R. (2018). Fair isn't always equal: Assessment and grading in the differentiated classroom. Stenhouse Publishers. 

    Wormeli, R: Recommended Resources for SBG

    Check out this short article: What does the research say about standards based grading?

FAQs

  • What is standards-based grading & why is it better for students?

  • How does standards-based grading work?

  • What will this look like in Infinite Campus?

  • What resources are available to help students be successful on assessment? What can students do if they don’t perform as well as they hoped on an assessment?

  • How are letter grades assigned?

  • What “traditional” grading practices ARE NOT part of this system?