GRADING FOR LEARNING UPDATE PARENT MESSAGE - AUGUST 17, 2017
This summer, around two dozen secondary teachers and administrators got together to discuss and work on our Grading for Learning Model. We incorporated feedback from parents, students, teachers and administrators. Overall, the teachers were very positive about the Grading for Learning Model, but there were several concerns that have surfaced over time—and these concerns were similar to those expressed by parents and students. This summer, the teachers and administrators addressed these concerns.
The work was exciting and productive, and it resulted in several changes to the Grading for Learning Model, which are explained in the documents, “Grading for Learning Changes: Parents and Students” and “Grading for Learning Retake Policy.” On August 14, representatives of the team of teachers and administrators presented the changes to the School Board.
In making these changes, we believe we’re strengthening the Grading for Learning Model. We believe the changes will help increase student engagement, help ensure equity among all students, and help with the workability of how we grade and assess student learning. Here are the links to the two documents, as well as the PowerPoint presentation to the school board.
Grading for Learning Changes: Parents and Students
Grading for Learning Retake Policy
Grading for Learning PowerPoint Presentation
GRADING FOR LEARNING INTRODUCTION
Over the last several years, our secondary teachers have been researching, studying, and applying the principles of the Grading for Learning Model. This has helped them continue to improve how they assess and evaluate student performance in the classroom.
Here are some examples of what teachers have accomplished:
- A group of approximately 60 secondary teachers voluntarily piloted the Grading for Learning Model with students in their classes.
- The Building Leadership Teams focused exclusively on Grading for Learning for several years.
- The Grading Committee, made up of approximately 50 volunteer teachers, worked on researching and applying the principles of Grading for Learning.
The work described above has been carried out by representatives from all four secondary schools: East High School, West High School, Longfellow Middle School, and Whitman Middle School.
What are some of the “basics” of the Grading for Learning Model?
BENCHMARKS: What will my child learn?
In the Grading for Learning Model, teachers collaboratively identify the essential skills and concepts that students need to master in a course or at a given grade level. In other words, teachers identify what students should be able to do and understand. These skills and concepts are identified in each content area’s benchmarks. To access the Wauwatosa School District Benchmarks click here.
MULTIPLE OPPORTUNTIES: How will my child learn it?
In the Grading for Learning Model, students get multiple opportunities to show they have learned something. Students and teachers may set up retakes for graded assessments because not all students learn at the same pace. Teachers may set up “spiraled” assessments that give students additional opportunities to show how their learning has progressed over time. If students do not meet deadlines or turn in work, teachers will not accept laziness or irresponsibility. Students will be supported in doing the work and learning, and they will be given multiple opportunities in demonstrating that learning.
COMMUNICATING STUDENT PERFORMANCE: How will I know how my child is doing?
The Grading for Learning Model helps your child’s teachers identify and communicate your child’s specific strengths and areas for improvement. This should help your child and you better understand how they’re progressing in their learning and what they need to do to improve.
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The Grading for Learning Model has an impact on how the PowerSchool Gradebook will look to you. The grades (or scores) in a course will no longer be organized by assessments (tests, projects, quizzes, etc.). They will be organized by benchmarks. Benchmarks are those important skills and concepts that teachers have agreed all students should master in a given course or at a given grade level. Organizing grades by benchmarks helps you understand how your child is progressing in mastering essential skills and concepts. Also, the grades that your child will receive on assessments will come from a four-point, equal-interval grading scale. We’re using this scale because it aligns with four-point rubrics that teachers use to describe varied levels of student performance. To see the Rubric Descriptors Scale click here.
The most valuable resource in learning about the changes in grading will be your child’s teachers. They will be able to give you more detailed information on the Grading for Learning Model in the specific context of your child’s classes.
Please note that students will still receive a letter grade (A, A-, B+, B, B-, etc.) for each of their courses. There will be no changes to GPAs (grade point averages), high school transcripts, or the college admissions process.