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Jessamine County: where all report cards are standards-based
Kentucky School Advocate
By Madelynn Coldiron
Jessamine County school district’s lengthy record on standards-based grading stands out because the grading system has been adopted by all its schools.
“Some schools are further ahead than others, but it is districtwide,” said Dr. Michelle Reynolds, the district’s chief academic officer.
All Jessamine County elementary schools use a common standards-based report card, but the report cards used at the two high schools differ from each other, as do the grading reports at the district’s two middle schools.
The school councils at those four schools arrived at different decisions about their report cards based on the needs of their students, Reynolds explained.
“The reason is that grading technically is a school decision; it falls under the realm of school councils, so our expectation at the district level is you will have standards-based grading practices in place and students will have multiple opportunities to learn and master standards,” she said. “That’s our districtwide expectation.”
While some districts in Kentucky, reflecting a national pattern, have shied away from instituting standards-based grading at the high school level, Jessamine County did not.
In fact, Reynolds said East Jessamine High School probably has the purest standards-based model of any of the district’s schools. She believes the system makes the most sense for high schools.
“What better way to know if students are college ready or even career ready than really looking at ‘Do they truly know?’ We can’t have grades that are diluted,” she said, “because the worst thing that can happen is a student gets to college and has gotten A’s all the way through high school because they were a conscientious student who turned in their work on time and took advantage of extra credit opportunities; and therefore they skated all the way through with a 4.0 to get to college or out into the work force and then realize, ‘I don’t really know this stuff, because my teacher told me I got an A, but really my content-level knowledge was a C-minus.’”
The high school has developed a conversion system to translate its numerical scale to letter grades to accommodate college transcripts.
East Jessamine High also has policies outlining how students are to be helped if they fall short of mastering all the standards. “They don’t have to retake the entire exam, but if they miss a particular standard, they can go back and do remediation in that particular standard and retake that particular section of the test,” Reynolds explained.
The crux of standards-based grading is not punitive, she added, but based on the philosophy that “you don’t know it yet.”
Standards-based grading: Where a D is not necessarily a bad thing
More on standards-based report cards
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