Grading Policy

8th Grade Language Arts Grading Policy 2017-18

Looping from 7th to 8th grade with these students has provided us the perspective to reevaluate and clarify our approach to grading. While we believe that learner behaviors (turning in complete assignments, meeting deadlines, etc.) are an important aspect of academic success, we also believe that a student’s quarter grade should primarily reflect which academic skills they have mastered. Focusing just on an individual assignment and its completion might not be the best judge of a student’s ability, nor does it emphasize the independence we wish to foster in our learners. In order for our grading approach to reflect those beliefs, we are piloting a grading policy that looks different from years prior. We will still assess learner behaviors (Uses Classtime Effectively and Completes Work on Time) as Pass/No Pass categories in the gradebook. We will also still utilize the idea of formative assignments and their role in giving students practice opportunities for skills before they are expected to demonstrate mastery in summative assignments.

What will primarily change in our grading policy is an additional category that we are calling Academic Learning Targets. This will be made up of the specific skills that align with common core and would have traditionally been in the Summative category. This new category will represent 80% of a student’s weighted grade. These learning targets will be made available at the beginning of the quarter to all students and families. Although some may line up with specific assignments, many will be achievable through more than one opportunity. It is our hope that students themselves will take ownership of when they’ve met one of these targets, and will come in prepared to show us how. We will provide regular opportunities for all students to reflect on the gradebook and consider which learning targets have been met, and especially in the beginning of this process we will help direct students to these conversations. This is to more honestly reflect the academic skills and state standards that the student has demonstrated they can do, instead of reflecting student accomplishment of assignments.

We do think that assessing students on their formative assignments and summative assignments is important. We will reflect that importance by having two familiar categories in the gradebook. One will be Formative Assignments and will be weighted at 5% of their total grade. Formative assignments are things like journal writes, group practice, or pre-writing for big writing assignments. The other category will be Summative Assignments and will be weighted at 15% of a student’s total grade. Summative assignments reflect the completion of essays, narratives, Socratic Seminars, and other end-of-unit experiences. To be clear, it is very likely that WITHIN these Summative assignments there will be opportunities for students to meet the Academic Learning Targets; our hope is that students are aware of their mastery and will begin to take a more active role in their own assessment.

In this model, revision opportunities can happen through new assignments and attempts at mastery, as opposed to simply revisiting the same old assignment over again. We also hope to shift the conversation away from task-completion towards actual mastery of skills.

GRADING:  Every Quarter, you will receive a grade in each of these areas: 1) Academic Work, 2) Completes Work on Time, and 3) Uses Class Time Effectively.

1)     Academic Work is broken down into three sub-categories, each with its own purpose. In all three categories, your work will be graded using a 5-point scale (rubric below). Your points are then converted into a letter grade from all three categories and combined to produce your percentage and letter grade. A = mostly 5s, B = mostly 5s and 4s, C = mostly 4s with a few 3s, NYM = mostly 3s and below show you are working towards meeting our learning targets but are not yet there, and  NP/NG = not enough work was turned in to evaluate

5  Accomplished

You got it! Work is complete and demonstrates a high level of understanding and craftsmanship. You show evidence of comprehending the material, applying it, and communicating clearly what you learned.

4  Sufficient

Good work! Work adequately demonstrates an understanding of key concepts.  Your work shows minor errors, or a need for improvement in craftsmanship and/or better communication of what you learned.

3  Developing

Keep going! You demonstrate effort toward learning and are getting closer to the target(s). Work needs revision or additions to demonstrate thorough understanding or craftsmanship.

2  Inadequate

Try again! Work demonstrated a lack of understanding, is incomplete or incorrect. Major revisions or additions are required to show competency.

1  Minimal

Very little work completed or accurate.

Those three categories are:

1.       Academic Learning Targets which make up 80% of your total weighted grade and are the skills derived from the core standards that all 8th graders should be able to master by the end of the year. A student demonstrates mastery of an Academic Learning Target through specific tasks and completed assignments, but the category is skill-focused, not assignment-focused. Academic Learning Targets are constantly assessed via different assignments; they are eligible for reassessment, but do not require students to revisit the same assignment all the time.

2.       Summative Assignments make up 15% of your total weighted grade and assess your skillful completion of an entire assignment. Summative assignments are eligible for reassessment in consult with the teacher.

3.       Formative Assignments make up 5% of your total weighted grade and give you critical feedback on practice opportunities for both Academic Learning Targets and Summative Assignments. Formative assignments are not eligible for reassessment.

2)     Completes Work on Time are the opportunities to practice so you can be successful on final assignments and projects. These may include homework, class notes, or early drafts of writing or projects.  Take risks here and don’t be afraid to fail; this is practice.  Goof and grow!  1/1 = complete and on time, 0.5/1 = incomplete or late, 0/0 = not turned in. 

3)     Uses Class Time Effectively refers to the small but significant things you do each day to be at your best.  Writing in your planner, keeping your journal organized, participating in group work are all examples of effective learner habits. 1/1 or 0/1