Grading & Assessment

Standards

Academic standards identify what students should know and be able to do in the classroom within a given subject or content area. Standards serves as goals for student learning, guideposts for classroom instruction, and a framework for assessment.

Minnesota’s academic standards are among the highest in the nation. Our Teaching and Learning department, in collaboration with teachers, works within those standards and identifies the most essential for our students to learn and understand.  These are called Power Standards. Power standards are those pieces of information a student should know when they complete a class. Teachers spend most of their instructional teaching and assessing time on these standards because it is important for all students to learn them. 

Examples:

At the elementary school, a standard in a 4th grade language arts class might be the ability to describe the main events of a story using specific details from the text. A 3rd grade math student will be able to add and subtract multi-digit numbers.

During middle school, a student would not just recap the main events, but be asked to make connections between the theme of a story and the characters and setting. Once they get to Algebra in grade 8, the student would practice writing equations to represent real-world situations.

Targets

Learning targets are concrete goals that clearly describe what students should learn and be able to do by the end of a class, unit, project, or even a course.

If a Power Standard is a larger piece of information critical for a student to understand and demonstrate knowledge of, then learning targets are the lessons – or building blocks – that build that understanding. 

Examples:

  • I can make predictions using information from what I read to guess at what will happen next.
  • I can summarize text with a short statement of the main ideas and most important details from a passage I have read
  • I can analyze geographic information from a variety of sources.
  • I can describe and classify cubes, prisms, pyramids by the number of edges, faces, and vertices.

Elementary

When learning something new, such as riding a bike, it helps to see someone put that new skill or concept into action, then try it out, gain experience and receive feedback, learn from it, and try again. Working through a collaborative process that allows for students to improve and make progress helps a student develop a deeper understanding of the skill, concept, or power standard.

Eastern Carver County Schools works to develop teaching strategies that encourage students to take more active roles, such as this, in their learning. Following a collaborative learning process, teachers assess student learning using a learning target. This assessment gives students the opportunity to demonstrate their learning and also informs the teacher of the student’s level of learning. At this point, if students are not meeting the learning target goal, teachers continue to support the student’s learning through a variety of instructional strategies and interventions, which may or may not conclude in an opportunity for a reassessment or participate in another opportunity to demonstrate learning. This is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Two girls smiling with a teacher in the background

Grading Parameters for Grades K-5

Families can see the academic progress of their elementary student through Infinite Campus Parent Portal.  Within a course, there will be anywhere from one to several power standards that are reported in the Grades area of Campus Portal.  Power standards are the highest priority or most important standards students will learn in a course.

Report cards are posted in Campus Portal at the end of the school year.

Video tutorial for accessing progress in Campus Portal

Elementary grading scale chart

Secondary

Grading and reporting practices should be used to support learners. At Eastern Carver County Schools, we do this by using practices that reflect academic achievement and learning progress. This is foundational to personalized learning. What happens in the classroom, and in gradebooks, is centered around creating relevant and meaningful learning opportunities for all students.

Grades reflect student learning, which is the focus of our work. Our grading system shows what a student has learned, and can be used by students to reflect on what they’ve learned and where they can continue to grow. No two learners are alike, and our approach to grading supports ongoing learning, when necessary, through multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of a subject.

Students have multiple learning opportunities to demonstrate their knowledge. Teachers will deliver feedback so that learners know their current level of understanding and where there is room for growth. Working together, teachers and students identify gaps in learning, and develop a plan for how best to demonstrate when those gaps have been closed. For some students, this might be a traditional retake, for others a different method of assessment.

Grading Parameters for Grades 6-12

Eastern Carver County Schools is committed to ensuring that all students reach their personal best.  Guidelines concerning how and what we grade are in place at both the high school and middle school levels to support that mission.  For the past several years, our teachers and leaders have engaged in continuous improvement to increase the efficacy and consistency of our grading practices.  We are driven by the following key assumptions: 

  • Grades should accurately reflect how much a student has learned in relation to course standards.

  • The calculation of grades should be clearly understood by parents and students. 

  • Productive learning behaviors (such as work completion, self-advocacy, and attention to detail) support high levels of learning. However, they will not be included in grades.

These assumptions have been the driving force behind a number of grading changes that have been implemented across the state and in ECCS over the past few years, specifically: 

  • Grades based mostly or entirely on learning that is demonstrated by way of tests and projects (or, “performance” assignments), with daily work and homework (i.e. “practice”) accounting for much less or none of the final grade calculation. 

  • Opportunities to retake tests and redo projects and essays to ensure that students master the material.

  • Scoring late work on its quality and not deducting for time, knowing that some students may take longer to master the material. 

  • No extra credit or points for participation.

High School Grading Update