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New K-12 Grading Policies

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Schools across the state are seeing grading policy changes, eliminating behavior and extra credit from final grades.

In 2011, the Oregon House of Representatives passed House Bill 2220, a bill stating that by this school year, districts state-wide would need to change their grading policies to be more proficiency-based.

Proficiency-based grading does not directly incorporate students’ behavior or attendance.

“Before, a grade might include extra credit, group work, participation; attendance,” said Cheldelin Middle School teacher Tamara Benning. “But now, it boils down to what the student can demonstrate and what they know.”

Benning says the proficiency-based system allows teachers to individualize the learning process based on each student’s needs.

“Homework doesn’t count very much,” Benning said. “Because it’s a practice piece. Just like if you were to play a baseball game. The practice during the week doesn’t count towards demonstrating that skill at the big game.”

Benning says the big game is like the summative assessment, where teachers can determine what students know.

“It might be a test, it might be a speech, it might be an essay; it might be a project,” Benning said. “So the final assessment can take different forms.”

So what about the students who have not done their homework?

“They’re not allowed to take the assessment,” Benning said about students in her classes. “They need to show me that they are prepared, or somewhat prepared, for taking that summative assignment.”

Benning says the Corvallis School District is not adopting a true proficiency-based grading system yet, a policy that would eliminate the ABCDF grading format. Students will, however, have two separate grades: one that affects their GPA, and another that affects their citizenship. A citizenship grade reflects one’s behavior, attendance, and class participation.

“It’s a challenging shift for everybody, but I think we’re moving in the right direction,” Benning said.

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