GPS implements ‘standards’ – based grading system for elementary schools

By Cory Smith • Last Updated 12:06 am on Saturday, November 17, 2012

GREENVILLE — When elementary students bring home their report card upon finishing their first trimester of school this autumn, parents and guardians may not recognize the sheet of paper brought home displaying their student’s grades through the first third of the school year.

In the first year of implementing a trimester schedule at the four elementary schools throughout Greenville Public Schools, in which the first trimester ends Nov. 30, the grading system for students has been changed as well to a ‘standards’ based system, as opposed to a more traditional grading system.

According to Assistant Superintendent Diane Brissette, who spoke about the new process at Monday’s regular Board of Education meeting, a standards based grading system encourages students to strive to go above the standard they may receive on their report card.

“I think it’s important to note that this is the culmination of a process to develop standards based education reporting,” she said. “This will hopefully help better communicate a student’s results to their parents as well.”

As opposed to a grading system based on a scale of 100 points, with grades ranging from A to F, the standards based system will rely more on the observation of a student’s teacher, who will assign a standard grade based on a student’s progress toward reaching a certain standard of education.

Students will be rated in all subject areas with either a ‘Not Assessed’ (NA), material has not been taught yet; ‘Beginning’ (B), the student has demonstrated some knowledge but is not on track; ‘Developing’ (D), the student is demonstrating skills and is on track; ‘Meeting’ (M), the student is meeting the standard and is on track; or ‘Exceeding’ (E), the student is exceeding the depth of knowledge required of the standard.

Superintendent Pete Haines said he is excited for the new format and believes it will serve as a better tool for parents to gauge their children’s progress at school.

“As a former science teacher the old standard really bothered me,” Haines said. “A student would receive a mark such as, ‘student is participating in appropriate science activities.’ The old system didn’t tell a parent anything about what skills a student is attaining.”

According to Brissette, the new model has been in development for several years and is a product of teachers working together to come up with a system that works effectively.

“This is the result of a couple of years of pretty intense work by elementary staff members who have looked at grading practices that support learning rather than interfere with learning,” she said. “The 100-point scale isn’t something that supports learning. Students who might earn a low score and receive a “D” for a grade aren’t motivated to improve. This new system will motivate all students by setting a standard target and seeing what needs to be done to meet that standard and then move beyond.”

Brissette described the new grading system as a “game changer” for parents as well as for teachers and students throughout the district.

“The teachers have been a part of this since the beginning,” she said. “This new formate, even if done poorly, is going to offer much more information for parents and for kids about their learning than an ‘A,B,C-style’ of grading.”

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