The purpose of grades is to accurately reflect individual student achievement as related to course objectives.
The School Board recognizes that students learn best through a system of clear learning objectives, quality formative assessment, developmental feedback, and the opportunity to respond to that feedback.
Formative Assessment and Feedback
Formative assessment is the process of understanding one’s current performance compared to desired performance and making necessary adjustments to improve the next time. Formative assessment also involves learning from one’s mistakes. A key part of the formative assessment process is non-judgmental developmental feedback.
Communication of Learning Targets
In the Science department, learning targets and quality performance are communicated through:
- Broad course objectives included in each course syllabus.
- Posting of daily and weekly schedules on classroom boards, in weekly handouts, and/or on the websites established for courses. These postings will include specific lessons, labs and activities, as well as the related course objectives the lessons cover.
- Communication of unit objectives at the onset of each unit through handouts and web posting. Objectives will be referenced daily, verbally and in writing, during units of instruction, and will be used to review for summative assessments including unit tests and semester exams.
- Objectives written into laboratory exercises to focus students on the primary purpose of the lab, and its relationship to the broader objectives of the unit and course.
- Modeling by instructors of problem solving, such as balancing equations in Chemistry or calculating forces in Physics, leading to guided practice by students, and eventual assessment.
- Exemplars used to demonstrate quality work to students, such as insect collections saved from year to year in biology to help students understand the quality of work expected by instructors.
- Rubrics handed out or posted at the beginning of projects or long term assignments to communicate objectives and grading criteria.
In the Science department, students have the opportunity to improve their performance by formative assessment and timely developmental feedback through:
- Introductory instruction followed by non-graded guided practice with ongoing, individualized written and verbal feedback from the instructor.
- Verbal checks for understanding during lectures and class discussions.
- Observation of skills and behaviors in laboratory settings and verbal feedback from instructors related to skills and attitudes necessary for success as well as the relationship of labs to specific course objectives.
- Graded homework including written instructor feedback to prepare students for other forms of assessment such as quizzes, tests, projects, and lab reports.
Accurately self-assessing one’s work empowers the learner to understand learning goals, monitor progress, and understand the relationship between the effectiveness of one’s effort and one’s improvement.
In the Science department, students are expected to accurately assess their own work by:
- Comparing their work in class to examples provided by instructors and student work, both past and current.
- Grading their own assignments using written samples from instructors, or keys from textbooks or other materials.
- Assessing their comfort and confidence level with laboratory procedures and techniques based on modeling and verbal feedback from instructor.
- Using grading rubrics handed out at the onset of projects to assess their meeting of the project requirements and understanding of the objectives of the project.
- Engaging in practice tests available from instructor, online, or in textbook materials to gauge readiness for summative assessments.
- Reviewing tests and quizzes to develop understanding of desired objectives not reached in order to succeed on cumulative summative assessments such as semester and Advanced Placement exams.
- Reflecting, in writing, on their understanding of course objectives periodically throughout the course.
Summative Assessment and Grading
The school board recognizes that formal grade reporting is necessary to provide summative information about student performance. Specifically, summative assessment and grade reporting inform students, parents, teaching staff and administration of how well a student meets learning objectives in a course and provides an official record of student performance.
Achievement of course learning objectives is the primary factor in determining grades. Furthermore, the most important skills and content knowledge are given the greatest weight. In the Science department, grades are determined by:
- The majority of a student’s grade will be determined by performance on summative unit tests, and ultimately, on the semester exam.
- After significant formative assessment and non-graded feedback from instructor, small stakes assignments will be graded to assess progress toward unit objectives.
- Where applicable, projects such as papers or presentations will be used to assess progress toward unit or course objectives.
- Laboratory write-ups will be graded to assess understanding of lab techniques and connections between lab-performed tasks and the objectives of the unit and course.
- Semester grades in science courses will be derived from quarter grades weighted at 75% and a final exam consisting of 25% of the final grade.
- In science courses, quarter grades will be determined approximately as follows:
- Tests 50%
- Quizzes 20-30%
- Labs/Projects 20%
- Graded homework - up to 10%
Note: Teachers of Advanced Placement courses may use other scales to better represent the scope and assessments associated with their particular AP course. This information will be in AP course syllabi.
Extra credit will not be factored into course grades if it isn’t directly related to achievement of unit or course objectives. Extra credit opportunities will be consistent within individual science courses that may be taught by more than one teacher.
When working in groups for things such as labs, presentations and research projects, students will be graded individually, based on their progress toward corresponding learning objectives. Students will not be given common group grades.
An essential objective of the school district as a whole is to prepare students for the responsibilities they will have later in their lives. As such, graded work not turned in by due dates will be given only 50% of the credit earned up until the assignment has been graded and returned to the class. After it has been returned and gone over in class, no credit will be earned, but feedback will be given to help students prepare for summative assessments.
If a student misses a lab, presentation, quiz or test, they must make up the missing assessment in a timely manner. Work not turned in by the end of a unit will receive a grade of zero. If a student is truant, they will receive a grade of zero on work due or done in class that day. If a large amount of work is not turned in, instructors have no accurate means to assess a student’s achievement of the course objectives, and no credit will be given for the course.
Redoing Summative Assessments
Summative assessments serve as an indicator of a student’s proficiency regarding unit objectives. At faculty discretion, students may have the opportunity to redo summative assessments to the end of better demonstrating the extent to which learning objectives have been achieved. If offered, this opportunity will be uniform across teachers of the same course.
The culminating assessment of the degree to which a student has achieved course objectives is the cumulative semester final exam. These assessments are aligned to the primary objectives and standards of each course and are the most important measure of science learning.
Academic dishonesty makes it impossible for an instructor to assess a student’s progress toward course objectives and will be dealt with according to school policy. Students will receive no credit for work associated with a first academic dishonesty offense. Per school policy, a second instance of academic dishonesty in the same course results in the student being dropped from the course.
Behavior is a critical component to creating a respectful, supportive learning environment, and effort is a critical component in the learning process. In the Science department, behavior and effort are reported by the building-wide, quarterly behavior/effort marks.
Furthermore, the Science department believes the following student behaviors and efforts lend themselves to success in the achievement of science course objectives:
- Students should attend class promptly, regularly, and with necessary materials. When absences are unavoidable, students should see instructors to find out what was missed and complete any make up work in a timely manner. Students absent from a summative assessment must take a make-up assessment in a timely manner. All courses are aligned with school board policy detailing accommodation for sincerely held religious beliefs.
- Students should be attentive and on task during whole group instruction, guided practice, whole and small group discussion, and lab activities.
- Students should complete all assigned work in a focused and timely manner.
- On the basis of self assessment and developmental feedback from the instructor, students should address objectives not being met and seek assistance from instructors in class and during ISHP. Students should be proactive in taking ownership of their learning.
- Students should begin their efforts toward achieving unit objectives from the onset of instruction, not put off efforts until the summative assessment approaches. Full student engagement throughout units of instruction leads to a more thorough attainment of objectives.
Alignment to District Policies
This policy is aligned to District Grading Policy (345.1), District Homework Policy (345.3) and Accommodating Sincerely Held Religious Beliefs (323.1).
Behavior that disrupts the teaching and/or learning process for others will be addressed through the school district’s code of classroom conduct (443.7).