New grading system now at Cassville

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

New system replaces A-F grades with numbers

The Cassville school district is changing the traditional grading system of A-F grades to a standards-based system.

Under the new system, student progress is measured by a number system of 0-4, not a letter.

The district has been working on transitioning to the new system, called standards-based grading, for about four years, using it in the elementary school for two years and the intermediate school since last semester. The system is slated to begin in the middle school next year, but there are no plans in place to implement it in the high school.

"It tests how well they know the material," said Jill LeCompte, assistant superintendent. "It's about mastery, verses a grade you get."

Area schools are also using the new number system.

"A lot of different districts are leaning toward that," LeCompte said. "The Department of Secondary Education has not demanded that districts change the system, but has encouraged it. What we're doing is taking a standard which we choose and they have a scale of 0-4, four is the highest. The student completes an assessment and we keep going at it until they get it mastered.

"A grade doesn't tell you whether they know it or not [the material]. It will help us understand if that child knows the subject. Their behavior, responsibility, attendance, all that is important, but it is taking away from the grading part. Those don't factor in to whether or not they know the standard or the material. So, this is going to really break down and concentrate on the presented standard materials. And we'll help them until they get it learned, we're not giving them an F."

LeCompte said it's a new concept for parents and previous generations to grasp, but they're catching on.

"It's a tough process to go through because most of the parents, grandparents and even great-grandparents were raised on the A-B-C-D-F process," LeCompte said. "And, the teachers were, too. We've really eased into it, so it's been a very slow transition. The parents seem to get it, and it's been a good transition.

"We're talking to parents the whole way through. We try to be an open door all the time. It's relatively new in our area and so everyone is kind of in the same boat together.

LeCompte said the district will start next year using the new system in the middle school with just reading and math, and the middle school is working to show parents the difference between the two systems.

"It's about student mastery and asking important questions such as do they know the standard?" LeCompte said.

How do you know the child knows this? It's just a different way to measure kids' learning."

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