“Grading” Reading and Writing in 5P

How will Reading and Writing (Language) be “graded” in 5-Peterson this year? 

Over the last three years, Heath Kelley (another 5th-grade teacher) and I have been piloting a “standards-based” reporting system for Reading and Writing. The entire middle school will likely be moving away from traditional A-F grades over the next few years. The reasons for this change are legion, but include a greater emphasis on student learning as opposed to merely “weighing” students and putting them into A-F categories. Most elementary schools have been using standards-based grading for years. Middle school and High School are now beginning to see the advantages of the kind of specific, clear feedback that standards-based reporting provides. Also, most evaluation procedures in workplaces are NOT A-F. Increasingly, employers provide feedback based on specific skills needed to do the job, and job improvement plans are developed based on areas of need.

Here is a link for the standards that Mr. Kelley and I developed (from the Common Core State Standards) for Reading and Writing. These are a working draft, as this is a difficult, time-consuming process.

Finally, here is a short video that gives an overview of how standard-based grading is focused on skills, rather than points. It is oriented more toward teachers, but I think it makes the switch more understandable for parents, too.

How will the grade report for Reading and Writing (Language) look?

The grade report will contain a list of the standards that were our focus areas for the quarter and a number that indicates how your child performed while working toward those standards.

The number scale we use is the following:

4 = exceeds grade-level expectations for that standard.
You can think of this as an “A” if that helps.

3 = meets grade-level expectations for that standard.
You can think of this as in the “B” range, if that helps. The standards are actually pretty high, so I think a “B” is appropriate.

2 = approaching grade-level expectations for that standard.
You can think of this as in the “C” range, if that helps. While a “2” is not anything to be terrifically worried about, it does indicate that this is an area we will need to focus on.

1 = below grade-level expectations for that standard.
You can think of this as in the “D” to “F” range, if that helps. A score of “1” is an indication that significant work needs to be done in that area to be where we’d like to be by the end of the year.

With standards-based grading, a parent (and ultimately, the student’s) question becomes this: “How can you (I) improve on X? Talk with your teacher to make a plan.” Since the skill is targeted and descriptive, students can improve their performance on those targeted skills more easily than they can raise, say, a 63% on a test that is already over to a higher score on the next, unrelated, test.

Power School grade reporting

I think you got information about how you can check your child’s grade reports through the Power School system. If not, you can call or email Paula in the main DMS office and she can tell you how to access that information.

You’ll notice that I have included checkpoints for multiple standards. Especially early in the quarter, these are based on my observations, short assignments or work products, conversations, small group work, and my many interactions with students as we are learning the key standards for that quarter. Later in the quarter more specific “assignments” will show up. First quarter always gets off to a slow start as we are working on getting settled into a new schedule and environment here at DMS.

Thanks so much for reading this far! I will have more about grades as the year goes along AND more about what we are doing in Reading and Writing in a few days.

Published by

Steve Peterson

I teach fifth grade in Iowa.

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