The Mav

80/20 has been a policy instituted for nearly 2 years, what are other districts doing?

The Mav has reached out to schools from around Colorado and even out of state to see what their districts are doing

Kassidy Trembath, Reporter

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The following is the 6th segment in a series meant to explore the 80/20 grading policy at Mead High School. Stay tuned for more installments.
 If you haven’t yet read about the different policies within St. Vrain Valley, please read it here.

Recently, The Mav looked into how other schools inside of the St. Vrain Valley School District grade. The question now is: what are other districts doing?

Like St.Vrain, JeffCo allows each school to develop their own grading systems with guidance from the district.

Matt Flores, Chief Academic Officer for Jefferson County School District, defines assessment as “Any information where we are asking students to demonstrate what they know.”

This could mean that an assessment doesn’t have to be in the form of a written test. “To me, it comes to: teachers have to say: what do we want them to learn? How will we know that they learned it?”

“To me, an assessment is anything that allows for students to demonstrate a particular skill being assessed in a unit or activity,” says Kyle Stovall, a teacher from Jefferson County Schools.

“At Ralston Valley High School, it is advised that each department have similar way of grading, and then within each team in a department it is expected that grading is uniform. This requires grade norming in which we look at student samples to make sure we would all score that student the same.”

Tiffany LoSasso, a teacher from Brighton 27J School District says, “I think evidence should account for more of the grade only if revisions/corrections are allowed. If the purpose of the grade is to show how well that student can demonstrate that standard, they should be able to improve and try again.”

Although in past years the grading system was up to individual teachers and departments, this year, “the entire district has decided on common gradebooks. 60% of the grade is Evidence and 40% is Learning Activities,” says LoSasso.

Some schools are discarding conventional grading systems altogether, such is the case in some classrooms in Boulder Valley schools.

Boulder Valley IB and AP teacher Tracy Brennan says, “These [learning activities] are important for me to see if they are doing the day by day learning for the class.”

“I have colleagues in my department and in my school who are experimenting with a no-grade policy where they give feedback to students to prepare several drafts of each paper, but the final grade is based on a contract agreement between the student and the teacher.”

Similarly, at  Enosburg Falls, a high school in Vermont, Principal Erik Remmers explains that “There are no grades, GPA, or class ranks.” This means that these students are still held accountable for knowing the same things as any other student; the difference is that the EFHS students are not given a letter grade.

In order to award students credit for their work, the school has certain standards that students are still accountable for meeting. The school has “identified 32 proficiencies [that are] broken down into subsets of skills called indicators,” according to Remmers.

These students still have opportunities to go to college and to begin a career, but some may have even more of an advantage. While in school, students have an opportunity to study particular fields whether in the early college program or the dual enrollment program. Oftentimes, these qualifications can set students apart.

“We are also looking into something called micro-credentialing. This means we would work with people in various industries or fields, say Electrical Engineering, to identify skills and indicators that would be highly relevant to their field. If a student receives Exemplary levels on each of those indicators, they would graduate with an Electrical Engineering credential on their transcript,” says Remmers.

Colleges seem to be open to this new system and are generously co  operating with the district.

“[Colleges] have been clear with us that they will accept any sort of transcript so long as our school profile makes it clear how the student has performed and how they have challenged themselves throughout high school.”

A program like this certainly has skoffers who may wonder how such an extreme system could be adapted. Remmers explains that, “The manner in which we chose to enact the law was determined by administrators, teachers, and students over several years of studying about proficiency systems, and then building one that made sense for our community.”

In order for a policy like this to be efficient, the school and its community must slowly adapt.

Colleges seem to be open to this new system and are generously cooperating with the district.

“[Colleges] have been clear with us that they will accept any sort of transcript so long as our school profile makes it clear how the student has performed and how they have challenged themselves throughout high school.”

“A learning activity is anything leading up to the final assessment: quizzes, daily work, participation, discussions, etc”

1 Comment

One Response to “80/20 has been a policy instituted for nearly 2 years, what are other districts doing?”

  1. Aiden Owen on April 3rd, 2018 11:58 am

    Wonderful explanation of how our school differs from other districts and states. The micro-credentialing sounds interesting though.

    [Reply]

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