Rochester Public Schools proposes new grading guidelines

Published: Jan. 9, 2023 at 6:37 PM CST
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – The Rochester Public School District is changing its grading guidelines for the second time in the last few years.

In 2016, as part of its strategic plan, RPS started revising its grading guidelines to a model called “Grading for Learning.” In the 2019-2020 school year, the model was fully implemented.

In the “Grading for Learning Model,” things like homework and quizzes are not part of the overall grade. Instead, they are seen as practice. Participation is not counted towards the overall grade, either. The final tests count toward the grade and even with that, students can retake tests multiple times. A recently completed RPS work study shows the current model needs adjustments.

Twenty-one people took part in the study from October to December.

It included a mix of students and staff. Some changes they recommended include getting credit for homework and participation. They also recommended that retesting could happen with demonstration of re-learning first.

“The student’s grade was based solely on summative assessment,” work study coordinator Jill Dunn said. “Which basically means tests for final projects, somehow demonstrating mastery of the standard. So, they were looking to include some of those practice activities which were a little bit more low stakes, too.”

The work study recommendations include:

1.) Classroom activities (not considered summative assessment) may be included in the overall grade and will account for no more than 10% of the total grade. Activities included in the grade must link directly to learning targets.

2.) Reassessment will be allowed in part or in whole with demonstrated relearning.

3.) Nonacademic factors are not counted within the summative grade.

3.) Students will turn in formative assessments prior to the summative assessment or reassessment.

“I appreciate that the students acknowledge they need a reinforcer,” School Board member Dr. Jess Garcia said. “Like why would I do homework if you’re not going to give me some sort of credit?”

The work study group also found that teachers were wanting more autonomy when it came to grading and assessing students.

“We have an issue,” RPS Superintendent Dr. Kent Pekel said. “The working groups also said we need a change. They didn’t come back and say the status quo is good, and that was not off the table. They could’ve said no, it’s fine, full steam ahead. They came back and resoundingly said significant change is needed.”

Dr. Pekel said in the next few months, he will be looking at new framework for grading, taking the recommendations into account. He said the plan will be to implement the new guidelines in the 2023-2024 school year.