Purpose of Grading

Purpose for Grades: Grades serve as a powerful tool.

  • Communicate achievement status to student, parents and others
  • Provide information and feedback that students can use for self-evaluation and growth
  • Encourage student growth mindset and progress in learning
  • Help identify students for available educational opportunities (courses or programs)
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of curricular, instructional and assessment practices
  • Identify how well a student meets the prioritized standards in a grade level or course. 
  • Provide an official record of performance. 
  • Accurately reflect student achievement as related to academic standards and College and Career Readiness Standards & be consistent with external assessments

Grading and Feedback: Students learn best through a system of clear learning targets, quality formative assessment, developmental feedback, and the opportunity to respond to that feedback in order to guide their effort toward higher levels of understanding. 

 “Self-efficacy has an effect size of .82 relative to students’ academic performance. This translates to an expected 29 percentile point gain.” - Marzano, Pickering, & Heflebower, The Highly Engaged Classroom (2010). 

“Characteristics of sound feedback include that it should be frequent, give students a clear picture of their progress and how they might improve, and provide encouragement." - Robert J. Marzano, Classroom Assessment and Grading That Work (2006)

The process of formative assessment, developmental feedback, summative assessment, and target-based grading has the following purposes:

Grading and Feedback for the STUDENT

  • Supports student learning by helping students understand the relationship between their current performance and the desired/next level of performance.
  • Supports student effort by helping students understand the relationship between their effort and their growth over time (Growth Mindset).
  • Develops each student’s ability to think critically about his or her own work (Metacognition).
  • Encourages students to take risks that result in the development of new skills and deeper learning.
  • Involves students in self-assessment of their progress toward standards and revision of their work throughout the teaching/learning process.

Grading and Feedback for the TEACHER

  • Informs teachers about student progress toward learning targets so teachers can provide responsive instruction.
  • Curriculum, instruction, and assessment/grading that enhances student learning in a target-based system typically includes:
  • Frequent use of target-aligned formative assessments to guide teaching and learning through progress monitoring.
    Frequent use of timely, quality feedback, and target-aligned rubrics that are communicated to, and understood by, the learner.

Grading and Reporting: NPS recognizes that formal grade reporting is necessary to provide summative information about student performance, and that information is used by various stakeholders.

The process of summative assessment and grade reporting has the following purposes:

  • Apprise the student, parents, teaching staff and administration of how well the student meets prioritized standards in a grade level or course.
  • Provides an official record of student performance to advise stakeholders about next steps in the student’s educational sequence (promotion, prerequisites, college admission, employers, etc.).
  • Ensures grading and grades support and accurately measure student progress toward standards, grading practices throughout the district must be accurate, meaningful, and consistent.

Accuracy:  NPS strives to ensure each student’s grades reflect achievement in relation to prioritized Nebraska College and Career Ready standards of which learning targets are derived. The following principles are applied to ensure accuracy of grading in a target based system:

  • Giving priority to evidence related to the most important skills and knowledge as reflected in prioritized standards.
  • Eliminate non-academic components from academic grading; separate feedback on effort, behavior, and attendance.
  • Ensure grades are a reflection of individual, independent understanding. 
  • Ensure assessment items are aligned to prioritized targets with matching proficiency scales.
  • Refrain from evaluating students in comparison to one another.
  • Minimize the incorporation of outlier scores that distort the accuracy of a student’s attainment of standards.

Meaningful grading practices: NPS PLC uses grades that clearly communicate student progress toward prioritized standards to students, parents, and other stakeholders. NPS incorporates the following:

  • Organized gradebooks and report cards to match learning targets.
  • Provide timely feedback to students and parents to clarify and inform student progress.
  • Ensure students have the opportunity to learn prioritized learning targets through aligned learning activities, appropriate practice and communication of proficiency scales. 

Consistent grading practices: NPS PLC’s hold consistent expectations and clear communication across classrooms and grade-levels. The following principles can be used to ensure consistency when grading in a standards based system:

  • Align grading practices to a common set of purposes and principles.
  • Align rubric scores to proficiency scales.
  • Clearly define and communicate expectations in relation to standards.
  • Establish common grade or course grading practices. 
  • Collaborate to calibrate scoring tools to ensure reliable interpretation of student work as related to the standards.
  • Utilize descriptive proficiency scales that consistently communicate student progress toward standards.