When the doors open at Morton High Schools for the 2013-2014 school year, students will be returning to a new, improved and fairer standards-based grading system.
This system, which District 201 had been preparing for since 2011, will provide students and parents with more complete information on the students’ mastery of their learning goals.
Students will now be graded on a zero through five scale, rather than on the traditional percentage scale. For example, a five will indicate exemplary work, equivalent to a A+ grade. A four indicates advanced work (A), a three proficient work (B), a two basic work (C), a one indicates need for improvement (D), and a zero will designate no attempt/beginning (E).
Each subject will use definitions for ratings that relate to the standards students must meet in their courses. For example, in English, a student proficient in grammar and who earns a B can write a piece free of grammatical errors. An advanced to exemplary student who earns an A can use grammar conventions to enhance writing in ways beyond what was taught in class.
The zero through five scale is fairer to students than the traditional percentage scale, in which each passing letter grade corresponds to ten percentage points, while failing is 60 points wide.
When a student earns a low grade or doesn’t submit an assignment, the resulting “0” can doom the student’s grade in the course. There should be consequences for poor or incomplete course work, but only an appropriate one. A “0” on the 0-5 scale lowers the grade, but in a much more fair way.
Report cards still will report letter grades, but parents also will see the students’ zero through five ratings for the standards in each course. This provides parents better information on which standards students are meeting, and on which they need help.
The district has conducted professional development with experts in the field, researched what other schools are doing, held meetings with Parent-Teacher organizations, and held informational sessions for parents and students in November and May.
Parents, students and community members are invited to a meeting on June 25 at 6:30 p.m. in the Morton West auditorium to talk further about these changes. Information will also be posted at www.morton201.org.
Mike Kuzniweski is the superintendent of J. Sterling Morton High School District 201