fb pixel

Log In

Reset Password

Proficiency-based grading is all but simple

How come the Eagle Point School District doesn’t average grades? Instead, teachers are using an odd grading technique, in which the most recent grade a student receives on an assignment is the one he or she has in the class at any given moment. It’s odd. It’s complicated. And frankly, it doesn’t make sense.

— Denise L., Eagle Point

Denise, gone are the days of letter grades and easy-to-read report cards.

Three years ago, the Eagle Point School District adopted the much-debated proficiency-based or standards-based grading method, in which grades are calculated based on a student’s ability to meet specific learning targets and not on homework completion, classroom participation, quizzes, tests and extra credit.

In other words, a kid can’t pass a class just because he turned in all his homework or did the extra credit assignment. He has to demonstrate that he knows the material.

“We have academic standards and behavioral standards,” explained Jen Mason, an Eagle Point High School instructional coach. “Homework is considered part of a behavioral grade but is not reflected in the academic grade that is transcripted. Both are reported out to parents, but (the behavioral grade) is not considered for the overall class grade.”

Students also may receive multiple grades on an assessment, depending on the number of learning standards assessed. For example, a student will receive five separate grades for an assessment measuring proficiency on five different standards.

The overall class grade, Mason explained, is the mean of the grades on the standards assessed.

Denise, there’s no denying that proficiency-based grading is complicated. And there’s a lot more to it than can be explained in this column, which is why we want to urge you to contact your child’s school or check out the resources available on the topic on the Oregon Department of Education’s website.

—Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.