Grading Policy

Purpose of Grading- A Philosophical Basis

The community of learners at South County Middle School, in alignment with the best practices of FCPS, believe that grades and grading policies should:

  1. Be based on student achievement, knowledge, and skill proficiency demonstrated through content standards.
  2. Be a reflection of content mastery rather than behavior, attendance, effort, or attitude.
  3. Encourage a growth mindset where students have the opportunity for improvement despite past outcomes. 
  4. Provide communication between students, staff, and parents about learning progress.

Key Terms

Behavior

  • Actions of a student that are not directly tied to progress towards content standards including effort, attendance, attitude, or compliance.

Content Mastery

  • Based on students demonstrating that they have learned the knowledge and skills they are expected to learn as they progress through their education. Student progress toward content objectives is usually measured by formative and summative assessments. If students fail to meet expected learning standards, they typically receive additional instruction, practice time, and academic support to help them achieve proficiency or meet the expected standards.

Equity

  • A measure of achievement, fairness, and opportunity in education. The study of education equity is often linked with the study of excellence and equity. Educational equity depends on two main factors. The first is fairness, which implies that factors specific to one's personal conditions should not interfere with the potential of academic success. The second important factor is inclusion, which refers to a comprehensive standard that applies to everyone in a certain education system. These two factors are closely related and depend on each other for an educational system's success.

Formative Assessment

  • A wide variety of methods that teachers use to conduct in-process evaluations of student comprehension, learning needs, and academic progress during a lesson, unit, or course. Formative assessments help teachers identify concepts that students are struggling to understand, skills they are having difficulty acquiring, or learning standards they have not yet achieved so that adjustments can be made to lessons, instructional techniques, and academic support. The general goal of formative assessment is to collect detailed information that can be used to improve instruction and student learning while it’s happening. Common examples of formative assessments include class work, or planning tasks (check points) as part of larger projects. While homework is often considered a formative assessment, it is a separate category in FCPS grading.

Summative Assessment

  • Used to evaluate student learning, skill acquisition, and academic achievement at the conclusion of a defined instructiona period, typically at the end of a project, unit, course, semester, program, or school year. Common examples include unit tests, long term projects, presentations, Socratic Seminars, and essays.

The Grading Scale

FCPS has two approved grading scales, the 4 point scale and the 100 point scale.  At SCMS we use the 100 point scale.

Grade 4.0 scale 100 Point Scale Definition
A 3.8-4.0 93-100 Designates the status of a student who consistently demonstrates accurate and complete knowledge of content and skills specified in the FCPS Program of Studies (POS) and applies that knowledge to solve problems in a variety of settings.
A- 3.4-3.7 90-92
B+ 3.1-3.3 87-89 Designates the status of a student who demonstrates knowledge of content and skills specified in the FCPS POS, with some improvement needed in accuracy and/or consistency in performance, applying that knowledge to solve problems in a variety of settings.
B 2.8-3.0 83-86
B- 2.4-2.7 80-82
C+ 2.1-2.3 77-79 Designates the status of a student who demonstrates knowledge of basic content and skills specified in the FCPS POS, but requires additional practice and instructional experiences to acquire skills necessary to solve problems.
C 1.8-2.0 73-76
C- 1.4-1.7 70-72
D+ 1.1-1.3 67-69 Designates the status of a student who needs significant practice and instructional experiences to acquire the knowledge of basic content and skills specified in the FCPS POS necessary to solve problems.  As a final mark, it is not necessarily sufficient to meet the prerequisite requirements.
D 0.8-1.0 64-66
F 0-0.7 50-63 Designates the status of a student who has not demonstrated the basic knowledge of content and/or skills specified in the FCPS POS and requires additional practice and instructional experiences in order to succeed.

Equitable Grading Practices: Minimum Grades and the Elimination of Zeros

Zeros will not be recorded in a teacher’s gradebook at South County Middle School. Grades will be recorded on the 50-100 grading scale. On a 100 point scale, the interval between numerical and letter grades is generally 10 points.  The range between an A, B, C is generally 10 points.  However, the range for a D is 6 points while the range for an F is 63 points. 

This disparity misrepresents achievement and can negatively impact a student’s motivation to learn.  At South County Middle School, we believe in an equitable grading policy.  Grades are recorded on a scale of 50 – 100%.  If a student does not complete or earns below a 50% on an assignment/assessment, the score will be recorded in the grade book as a 50%.  Our goal is to ensure that all students have satisfactorily mastered all content material through a variety of interventions before the grading period closes.

This policy ensures that grades for students are not distorted and the range of scores for earning each letter grade are more thoroughly distributed.

Gradebook Codes

  • AB” placed in the gradebook for work not completed due to an excused absence. An “AB”  has no point value and does not negatively impact a student’s grade.  The teacher may include more information in the public notes.
  • EX” placed in the gradebook for excused work; this assignment does not factor into grade calculation.
  • IE” placed in the gradebook for Insufficient Evidence; calculated as F (50%) in the gradebook with feedback provided to the student and family in the comments section. Refer to the late work policy and reassessment policy for procedures to replace “IE” with a numerical score. Reasons that “IE” could be seen in gradebook:
    • Missing assignments (not daily homework) that the student had opportunities to complete.
    • Grade received on the work is lower than 50%.
    • Standards not met.
  • NTI” is placed in the gradebook for daily homework assignments that are not turned it; calculated as F (50%) in the gradebook

Collaborative Team (CT) Expectations

  • CTs (teachers teaching the same content ) shall create a common syllabus containing a method of determining grades in the same fashion.  CTs will be consistent as to the method of calculating quarter grades (weights) and end of year grades.
  • CTs shall use weighted categories to determine grade and must be aligned. 
  • Weights may vary by CT within the same department (i.e. English 7 may have different weights than English 8)
  • Each weighted category must have a minimum of two grades so that percentages in other categories are not inflated.
  • No category can be left blank in the gradebook because it will change the assigned weights of other categories.
  • CTs are to set grading design so that no one assignment/assessment counts more than 30% of the quarter grade.

Homework

  • We expect that all students complete 100% of their work 100% of the time.
  • Homework is an important part of the learning process and takes a different form and has a different purpose per content area. 
  • Homework for practice or preparation for instruction may account for no more than 10% of quarter grade.
  • As a best practice, teachers should limit or avoid assigning homework over long weekends and holiday breaks.

Reassessments

Students who score up to 90% on a summative assessment (defined above) will be afforded one opportunity to demonstrate mastery of content through reassessment. Content CTs will identify which assessments are eligible for reassessment and post criteria in subject specific syllabi. Teachers will post and clearly communicate the reassessment deadlines.  

  • Any student earning a grade of 73-90% on a summative assessment may prepare independently and/or with a teacher and participate in a reassessment within two weeks once the original assessment is returned.
  • A student receiving a grade less than a 73% on a summative assessment will be supported by the teacher with additional instruction and will be required to participate in a reassessment in collaboration with the teacher.  
  • Reassessment to demonstrate mastery of content should be completed within two weeks of the date the original assessment is returned to students with flexibility around school breaks or if the student requires additional support.

The teacher will:

  • Identify the specific standards for which the student did not meet proficiency on the assessment.
  • Provide intervention/remediation on those standards for students during the school day or after school.
  • Provide targeted instruction and remediation for any student receiving below 73%.

Before participating in a reassessment students will: 

  • Complete work supporting standards assessed as determined by the teacher (e.g. test corrections, review assignment, reflections, outstanding homework).
  • Attend a review session (during class, Learning Seminar or After-School) designated by the teacher (required for grades below 73%).

To the greatest extent possible, the reassessment will be a similar format and difficulty as the original assessment.  In certain cases, performance assessments (i.e Fishbowl debates, TED Talks, etc.) may require an alternative format given the nature of the assessment. However, these will also be consistent with the level of rigor of the original assessment.

The highest level of mastery, up to 90%, will be recorded in the grade book. The original grade earned will be noted in the “notes” section in the grade book. If students have not met the set criteria for reassessment, the grade entered into SIS will reflect the original score (with “IE” as the lowest score possible).

Academic Integrity (Cheating)  

Cheating and plagiarizing are inappropriate behaviors and shall result in disciplinary action as outlined in Regulation 2601, Student Rights and Responsibilities Booklet.

Teachers have the responsibility to:

  • Specify the types of collaboration that are discouraged and those that are encouraged.
  • Teach or review the correct use of sources and citations when assigning work.
  • Structure conditions during testing to reduce the possibility of cheating.

Students have the responsibility to:

  • Avoid situations that might contribute to cheating or plagiarizing.
  • Avoid unauthorized assistance.
  • Use sources in the prescribed manner.
    • Phones should not be brought to the classroom.
    • No other tabs open on the computer.
  • Document borrowed materials by citing sources.
  • Avoid plagiarism by:
    • using quotation marks for statements taken from others.
    • acknowledging information and ideas borrowed from any source.
    • consulting faculty members about a questionable situation.
    • Avoid “cutting” and “pasting” from computer text without proper attribution.

Students who violate “the spirit or the letter of the law” as regards cheating and plagiarizing must accept responsibility for their actions and the accompanying consequences. Consequences may include:

  • Parent notification.
  • Students determined to have cheated on an assessment will take the reassessment at the time designated by the teacher and forfeit their right to another reassessment opportunity. 
  • An alternative assignment (of equal format and difficulty to the original) or recompletion of the original assignment.

Extra Credit

  • Students are given multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of skills and concepts; therefore, extra credit is not an expected or acceptable component of any teacher’s grading policy at South County Middle School.

Final Grade Calculation

  • Final grades in courses NOT bearing high school credit will be the numerical average of quarter grades.
  • Final grades in courses bearing high school credit MAY also reflect the score on a final exam. CTs will determine the weight of the final exam (not to exceed 20% of the overall grade). Final exams are not eligible for reassessments.
  • Further detail on the calculation of Final Grades is available in the FCPS Secondary Grading and Reporting Handbook