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Standards Based Grading - Math 1-5
FAQ for Parents

Q- Why are we changing the way we grade?

A- Research shows that standards based grading helps to raise student achievement by clearly communicating students’ progress toward learning targets.

“By comparing one child’s performance to a clear standard, parents, children and teachers all know precisely what is expected. Every time a student attempts a task, the performance is compared to the standard, not to other children’s performances. The most important advantages for children and families are fairness, clarity, and improved learning.”

Doug Reeves (101 Questions and Answers about Standards, Assessment, and Accountability, 2004)

Q - What is a learning target?

A - A target is another term for a standard. Our math curriculum is aligned to state standards. We have decided to use the term “target” because it is student friendly and shows that students that this is what they are aiming for. Each day the teacher will communicate  the target for that day’s lesson to the students.  We are hoping that having clearly defined targets will help students to take responsibility for their learning and also make it easier for parents to be partners in their learning.

Q - Why won’t my child get an overall grade on each test?

A- We are providing more information to you and your child by indicating exactly what learning targets he/she has or has not mastered. A percentage or letter grade is an accumulation of points; it does not provide the detailed information that our new cover sheets will provide. Your child will get a score on each learning target.

Q - On the progress report, the scale is a 1-4. What opportunities will be provided for my child to show that they are a “4”?

A- Our math teachers are considering a “4” student as one who demonstrates “advanced proficiency”. That means that they have mastered the targets and show evidence of higher level thinking. Each chapter or topic test will have at least 2 questions that assess higher level thinking. Class discussions and other class work will also give teachers an indication if a student is making connections, analyzing and/or applying what they learned to real life situations, which are all indications of higher level thinking.

Q - How will the progress report reflect this new way of grading for math?

A - Students in 2nd through 5th grade will be given a score (1-4) for each math strand (from state standards). For example, there will be an overall score for all learning targets under the category of  numbers and operations, another for algebra, another for geometry and measurement. The targets that are included in each strand for the marking period are the same as those listed on the cover sheets of each chapter (topic) test. There will be a listing of topics included in the progress report envelope.  See question below for math fact fluency scoring and expectations.

Our kindergarten, pre-first, and 1st grade students have progress reports that list the main standards from the National Common Core Standards. These are the end of the year standards that are expected for that grade level. However, they are graded on only what they have covered for each marking period. These are marking period benchmarks that are listed on your parent insert.

Q - What do the numbers mean?

A – All topics within a strand are taken into account to arrive at a number (1-4) that best represents your child’s progress.

This is what our numbers mean for math.

On a particular strand, the child has mastered the targets and is able to demonstrate higher level thinking. For example, if a student can communicate the essential understandings of a topic and completes the problems correctly, he/she would get a "4." An open ended question on an assessment is one way for a teacher to determine if a student gets a "4."

"3" means "demonstrates proficiency".

On a particular strand, the child has proven that they have reached the targets most of the time. A "3" may mean that a student makes few mistakes, but understands the concepts OR they may get all problems correct, but does not yet demonstrate the higher level thinking necessary for a “4”.

"2" means "demonstrates developing proficiency"

On a particular strand, the child has understanding of the simpler processes, but not the more complex concepts.

"1" means "demonstrates beginning proficiency"

On a particular strand, the child has little understanding of even the simpler processes.

Here is a student friendly rubric for individual targets:

4.0 - I know (can do) it well enough to make connections, apply to new situations, and be able to communicate the idea to others.

3.0 - I know (can do) everything that was taught without making mistakes.

2.0 - I know (can do) all the easy parts, but I don’t know (can’t do) the harder parts.

1.0 - With help, I know (can do) some of what was taught.

Q- Why do some standards have 3 as the maximum number?

A - Many standards are skills that do not lend themselves to higher level thinking. For example, in fact fluency, a student can meet the expectations or be approaching the expectations or not reach them. There is no higher level thinking involved.

Q -If my child does poorly on a quiz or on other class assessments, but then proves he/she understands the target on a chapter test, will the scores be averaged together?

A – No. In standards based grading, the quiz and other assessments are used as practice towards hitting the target. Students are not penalized for taking longer to learn a standard. The most recent evidence will be used.

Q- How does homework count towards my child’s grade?

A - Homework is used for practice or possibly to show evidence of higher level thinking. Students need to understand that doing homework will help them to hit their target in school. A student taking responsibility for doing homework is not part of the 1-4 score. It is reported in the “Characteristics of a Successful Learner” portion of the progress report.

Q - Can you explain math fact fluency?
A - It is very important for students to learn their basic math facts so they become automatic. Two seconds would be enough time to give an answer.  According to brain research, when a child knows facts fluently, he/she will be able to concentrate on learning new and more difficult math concepts because the math facts are in their long term memory.

At this time, these are the expectations by the end of each grade level. As this is new for us, we will be monitoring and may adjust expectations.

1st grade - Addition and Subtraction within 10 - 30 problems in two minutes
2nd grade - Addition and Subtraction within 20 -  30 problems in two minutes
3rd grade - Addition, Subtraction  - 50 problems in 3 minutes; Multiplication - 30 problems in 2 minutes
4th grade - Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication 50 problems in 2 minutes; Division - 50 problems in 3 minutes
5th grade - Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division - 50 problems in 2 minutes

This is the scale that they are graded on:
3 (proficient)   42-50 correct                                                                                                                       2 (approaching proficiency)   35-41 correct
1 (below proficiency)   less than 35 correct