Embrace one of these alternative grading systems in 2018

Gary FalconSchool Management, Teacher Resources

There are so many things that make private schools great, special, and unique. One of the things we hear schools promote when talking to us about what they have to offer is alternative systems for student assessment.

As educators, it is easy to understand that the learning process is complex, messy, and difficult to summarize with just one letter. Letter grades are the norm in many schools. And, parents and families expect some kind of regular feedback for student progress.

So, what are your options as a private school who wants to embrace an alternative to traditional letter grades?

  • Standards-based assessments – Rather than assigning letter grades, standards-based grading allows teachers to indicate student progress toward mastery of various course standards.
  • Pass/fail grades – Some schools choose to issue only pass or fail grades to help alleviate the competition inherent in a traditional A-F scale, while still communicating to families when there is an area where students are not meeting expectations.
  • Evidence of learning – Often students demonstrate their learning in various ways that may not be part of formal assessments. Innovative schools are providing teachers with ways to capture that learning, associate that learning with course skills or standards, and use that as part of a learning “story” that feeds into term-end reports.
  • Narrative feedback – Inclusion of written feedback, both on individual assessments and in report cards, is becoming increasingly popular and important. With written feedback teachers are able to provide encouragement and praise for strengths, and to be specific about gaps and areas where improvement is needed. Such details help students and parents understand expectations and focus attention where it is needed.
  • Rubrics – Rubrics allow teachers to give much more detailed feedback on a variety of aspects of student learning, with clearly defined objectives and expectations. Though rubrics are most often used as grading tools for individual assignments, they can also be used for interim or end-of-term grades.

The great part about these choices is that no matter what type of grading system you use, you’re not locked in. Choosing alternative grading systems is about selecting the best method of evaluation for your students for any given assignment or course. Pass/fail grades might work great on a homework assignment or in a homeroom course, but rubrics might work better on a long project or in a writing-intensive class. It’s up to you to choose!

One other thing to keep in mind no matter what kind of grade reporting system you choose to use is whether your SIS and LMS can support alternative grading scales, including custom report cards and gradebooks. Want to know more about how Twine can help you accomplish it? Contact us and let an expert guide you through the process.