This year middle schools are very busy planning changes to our grading system that will go into effect beginning August, 2013. Beginning next school year, 7th and 8th grades will be moving to standards-based grading. After years of discussion and research, both Sunnyvale Middle and Columbia Middle Schools feel this change will positively affect the achievement of all of our students as we prepare them for high school. Under this system, students will be graded on a five-point grading scale you may see below. This school year, our 6th grade teachers are assessing their students using this scale.
Why are we switching from A-F to standards-based grading?
o To set goals and give feedback about learning that specifically helps students know how to improve.
o To align grading systems within courses and across subject areas.
o To focus on learning in a success-oriented environment with no penalties for practice.
o To reduce the arbitrary nature of grades so that a grade means the same thing for the same course.
With a switch from letter grades to standards-based grading, a laser-like focus will occur in which teachers clearly understand where students are doing well and where they may need intervention and support. This will allow us more opportunities to provide rigor and also to support those students who need strategic intervention in order to succeed to their full potential.
In addition, California has adopted the national standards, or the “California Common Core State Standards.” Students will first be tested on these new standards in the 2014-2015 school year. This shift is a dramatic one, with an increased, in-depth focus on literacy and critical thinking. Standards-based grading fits with this shift, and will allow us to better assess and support student learning under these new standards.
5 – Advanced Proficiency
Student demonstrates a deeper or broader understanding of the ideas and processes that were explicitly taught and practiced during class.
4 – Proficient
Student demonstrates a consistent understanding of the key concepts and processes that were explicitly taught and practiced during class. There may still be some errors or omissions that do not interfere with the key concept.
3 – Basic Proficiency
Student demonstrates basic understanding of the ideas and processes that were explicitly taught and practiced during class, but does so inconsistently. There may still be some errors or omissions when demonstrating key concepts of the content.
2 – Approaching Proficiency
Student is beginning to demonstrate an understanding of the simple ideas and processes that were explicitly taught and practiced during class. However, the student demonstrates little understanding of the more complex ideas and processes with significant errors or omissions.
1 – Below Proficiency
Student demonstrates limited understanding of the basic ideas and/or has difficulty retaining the ideas and processes that were explicitly taught and practiced during class. There are consistent errors or omissions when identifying the key concepts of the content.
I – Incomplete
Student has not completed or produced sufficient evidence to receive a grade for this course.
Middle Schools aren’t the only ones to be affected by the switch to the California Common Core State Standards (CCCSS) Elementary students will be also be working toward mastering the common core. This change is leading us to revise the existing standards-based reporting system as well. We will be working to update our report cards and align the elementary and middle school systems after the new year.
Parents at all schools will be provided information from the schools via websites, newsletters, School Site Council meetings, PTA meetings and information events.
For current information on the Common Core Standards please visit our website at:
Article by Claire Castagna, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum/Instruction/Assessment