Oxford School District considering grading system revision

Published 10:33 am Monday, September 2, 2019

Oxford School District made changes to its grading system for first and second grade two years ago.

After a first reading was held on Monday, similar changes could be coming to the third and four grade.

During their regular Board of Trustees meeting, assistant superintendent Bradley Roberson presented a first reading of a policy change that would implement standards-based grading system for Kindergarten through fourth grade.

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The change to use a common grading scale among all of the school district’s lower grades will allow a consistency in the evaluation of student’s performance to be maintained, Roberson said.

Standard-based grading measures the mastery of skill. In place of using A to F as a grading scale, the standards-based system uses a number scale. Currently, the grading system ranges from 1 to 4, but the proposed change would add zero and half-points to the grading scale.

“The reason for doing that is, it does give our teachers a little more flexibility and it also gives a clearer picture to our parents to see exactly where their students are when it comes to mastering the immediate standards,” Roberson said to the Board during the meeting.

Each teacher will explain their grading scale in writing, provide a copy to the student and also post it for reference. The written statement will include the teacher’s explanation of the relative value of tests, homework items, extra credit work, class participation, final examinations and any other factors used to determine the final grade.

Students in Kindergarten through fourth grade will be issued a standards-based report card every nine weeks.

The new standards-based grading scale is as follows:

4.0 – Evidence clearly demonstrates knowledge and skills above the level the standards identified

3.5 – Evidence indicated growth in student knowledge and skills beyond proficiency in the standards.

3.0 – Evidence clearly demonstrates knowledge and skills that meets the standards.

2.5 – Evidence clearly indicates knowledge and skills beyond the foundational concepts and moving toward proficiency in the standards

2.0 – Evidence indicates knowledge and skills of the foundational concepts.

1.5 – Evidence indicates growth in student knowledge and skills of foundational concepts beyond beginning levels of understanding while making major omissions of standard level content.

1.0 – Evidence clearly indicates beginning levels of knowledge and skills of both foundational concepts and standard level content with assistance from the teacher.

0.5 – Evidence indicates only partial student success on foundational skills even with assistance from the teacher.

0.0 – Evidence indicates no student success even with assistance from the teacher.

Fifth through 12th grade will still use the A – F grading scale.

Under the Purpose of Marks and Grading section, there was one line stricken from the proposed policy, which read “To motivate students to do their best work and thereby raise their level of achievement.”

Roberson was asked by Board member Gray Edmondson why that language was removed. Roberson cited that the way grades are calculated now is not a motivating factor for many students. He also mentioned the amount of assessment exams and the stress that was being put on the students because of them.

“We are putting a lot of emphasis now in all of our schools of effort and growth,” Roberson said. “When you think about educating the whole child, one of the worse things we can do as parents is tell our kids that they’re smart, to be quite honest. We need to start, and there’s research that says this, we need to start teaching them about a growth mindset and putting the effort in on the front end and not get so caught up in this idea of motivating for great.”

The Board will take a vote to make the policy changes following the second reading at their Sept. 23 meeting.