General InformationBest PracticesThe Problems With Zeros and GradingSouth Western GradingChanges for 2012-2013

Report cards are an important part of the South Western School District’s system for assessing student progress. Throughout the 2010-11, a committee of district teachers and administrators met to examine best practices in grading and to revise our district report cards. The committee has expanded to include parents from each level and continues to meet throughout the 2011-12 school year.

Although the terms “assess” and “grade” are often used interchangeably, they are actually two different, although related practices. Assessing means providing feedback to the student and teacher SW017-site_10-75.jpg what a student knows or is able to do. Grading means providing a formal report of student progress to students and to parents.

In our work as a committee, we agreed that the purpose of grading in the South Western School District is “to communicate achievement to all stakeholders.” Those stakeholders include parents, students, colleges, employers, and teachers.

The committee also agreed that the following best practices would be followed as we made changes to our report cards:
• Grading will reflect what students know, understand, and are able to do.
• Non-academic factors such as behavior, effort, participation, attendance, and attitude will be reported separately from achievement.
• Homework and practice will be reported separately from academic achievement.
• Grades will be based on a variety of high-quality summative, common assessments.
• Students should be involved in the assessment and grading process.

Each level in the district used these guidelines in the development of their report cards. At the elementary level, rather than grading students with A, B, C, or S (satisfactory) and N (needs improvement), reading and math achievement in specific skill areas are reported using a numeric system, with a 3 representing grade level expectations. Reading levels are also reported each marking period to give parents a clear understanding of the level at which their child is reading compared to grade level expectations. In art, music, and physical education, students will receive two numeric grades: one for achievement and one for habits and behaviors.

At the middle and high school levels, students receive an academic grade for each course, as well as a rubric score of 4 (commendable), 3 (effective), 2 (developing), or 1 (limited) in the habits and behavior of motivation, cooperation, communication, and responsibility.

We are excited about these changes to our grading and assessment practices and are confident that they will help to make a difference in the achievement of our South Western students. We welcome and value your questions and input on our report card and grading system.