The Mav

What are other SVVSD schools’ grading policies?

With the 80/20 policy at Mead High School, the question begs to be asked: what grading policies are other schools in the district using?

District+officials+spend+time+developing+their+grading+policies.+
District officials spend time developing their grading policies.

District officials spend time developing their grading policies.

Aiden Owen

Aiden Owen

District officials spend time developing their grading policies.

Kassidy Trembath, Reporter

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The following is the 5th segment in a series meant to explore the 80/20 grading policy at Mead High School. Stay tuned for more installments.
If you have not yet read the first segment describing why MHS has the 80/20 policy, according to Principal Ayers, you can read that here.
If you have not yet read the second segment describing student reactions to the MHS policy, you can access that here.
If you have not yet read about teacher responses to the grading policy, please read it here.
Lastly, if you have not yet read about professors reactions to the grading policy, please read it here.

Since the school opened 9 years ago, there had been no formal grading policy—that is, until 2015 when the 80/20 policy was put in place.

The policy is as follows: Learning activities are 20 percent of a student’s final grade (formative assessments), while assessments (summative assessments) are mostly exams, tests, and quizzes, which result in 80 percent of the student’s grade. Ayers has described formative assessment as the following: “[it] should inform and move students from introduction to proficiencies so that [students] are becoming proficient on assessments.”

With the 80/20 policy at Mead High School, the question begs to be asked: what are other schools doing?

School officials from around the district have discussed their schools’ grading systems.

“There is a policy, but it does not designate the percentage of assessment vs. classwork/homework,” says Stacy Judson, Assistant to SVVSD Executive Director of Curriculum Kahle Charles. He explained that a student’s work will reflect their grades, meaning that a student should be able to apply their knowledge and be able to do well on tests/projects/quizzes. He also referenced a motto his office often refers to: “Can they do it? Can they apply it?” Authentic based learning, he said, is a great way to test a students ability to apply their knowledge.

Some administrators in our district had believed that St.Vrain had a district-wide grading policy, while others said there wasn’t. It wasn’t very clear to them what a grading system entailed. Charles said, I would say in reality that there may be some variances in the district.” As a result, it appears St. Vrain does not have a uniform, enforced grading policy.

Frederick, Niwot, and Silver Creek all follow a 70/30 grading policy. Neither Erie nor Lyons have an enforced policy, although Randy McKie, the Assistant Principal at Lyons, explains that most of the high school teachers there do follow a 70/30 grading system.

Some schools declined to comment further on their enforcement of 70/30 at the risk of “creating conflict within the district.” One such source did admit, however, that they believed the district mandates 70/30. Despite repeated attempts, some schools never responded to interviews. Though the majority of schools did not respond immediately to email, four did respond to phone calls. Three did not respond to phone calls or emails.

Assistant Principal Eric Ottem has been working at Silver Creek HS for 10 years, and states that their policy has been in place for at least seven. He also states that “teachers can make something worth nothing, and nothing worth a lot,” meaning that individual teachers can “manipulate the system.” With this being said, the “district agreement with teachers is that teachers have ultimate decision on what grades are given.”

“There are pros and cons for each grading philosophy and I don’t know that I have an opinion either way. It seems like allowing variation by teacher and subject makes a lot of sense but I can see the positives of consistency across the school,” says Julie Pohlman, a counselor from Erie High School. She recognizes that within each grading system, there are going to be some things that do work and some that don’t.

Doug Jackson, Assistant Principal from Frederick, states that “Around three years ago we researched the topic fairly extensively, and [he] became a strong advocate.”

He went on further to add, “It is our stance that the bulk of a student’s grade should be based on his or her measurable learning, and that to allow otherwise risks what some researchers have called ‘grade pollution.’ I find that students are comfortable as long as they feel they are being treated fairly, and know the policies in advance (as well as the rationale behind those policies).”

Simply put, he believes in a more firm policy. He also explains that a stricter policy eliminates gray areas that can frustrate students, as well as teachers.

If you’d like to leave a comment anonymously, you can. We understand that some staff and students would like to respond, but do not want to be named. We just ask that you be respectful. All comments are checked before being allowed to post.

5 Comments

5 Responses to “What are other SVVSD schools’ grading policies?”

  1. Aiden Owen on January 31st, 2018 1:55 pm

    Amazing article! Imagine if Mrs. Ayers changed the policy because of these articles.

    [Reply]

  2. Eric Ottem on January 31st, 2018 4:57 pm

    I agree with Principal Ayers as she is quoted here. I also want to add that the point of good assessment is to measure progress in the understanding and the skills which are the essential targets of a worthy curriculum. 80/20… 70/30… 50/50… is only an interesting question if the outcome of “learning” is merely a grade. If you’re just gathering points, you will have wasted 4 years of high school and, then, perhaps, 4 years of college.

    If “assessment” is a daunting or frightening prospect, which might make you wish for a heavier emphasis on “learning activities” (which ideally should be the daily formative assessments in a class where teachers are gauging your understanding), I guess I’d ask you what you want your high school diploma to “mean” to the world when you hold it up.

    Enjoy your learning. Ask your teachers for worthy, meaningful assessments that measure something important. This will prepare you for college and careers far more thoroughly than a pile of pointless points, and it will help you strive to live an interesting, thoughtful life. Then, on the final report card of your tombstone, you can decide for yourself what weight to give your “learning activities” and your “assessments”. Let it be written there for all to judge and value.

    [Reply]

    Anonymous Reply:

    A response to Eric Ottem: You fail to understand what this article is really talking about. This isn’t about learning– this is not a question of what grading policy helps students understand the knowledge departed in high school classes. Because at the end of the day, colleges don’t care what you learned. They care if your grades and test scores reflect what they would imagine ambitious students would achieve.

    [Reply]

  3. Wyett derr on February 2nd, 2018 12:13 pm

    Hey anonymous person I don’t think you are correct about colleges not caring about your knowledge because they want someone that is knowledgeable to support their school. Without knowledge you wouldn’t be able to have a good transcript. Also colleges want someone that stands out with knowledge not just like a normal person knowledge. They want some that will please them and stand out.

    [Reply]

  4. Alex Garcia on February 5th, 2018 8:56 am

    Great job of allowing your interviewees to guide your article. Always enjoy broadening my understanding.

    [Reply]

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