Grading and Reporting

A Parent's Guide to Grading and Reporting

Grading Philosophy

At West Potomac, we believe in the following pillars and principles as the foundation of our assessment and grading of student learning.

  1. Accurate grades use calculations that are mathematically sound, easy to understand, and correctly describe a student's level of mastery of course content and skills.
  2. Bias-Resistant grades are based on valid evidence of a student's mastery of content knowledge and skills, and not based on evidence that is likely to be corrupted by a teacher's implicit bias or reflect a student's environment.
  3. Motivational grades help students achieve academic success, support the development of a growth mindset, and give students opportunities for redemption. Fair and transparent grading policies help students to know their level of master at any point in time, enabling them to reach or exceed mastery of course content and skills.

Since 2017, West Potomac has implemented several practices to move us towards a more equitable system of assessment and grading.

  • Through our Honor Code policy, we provided alternative (non-graded) consequences for cheating, plagiarism, and related instances of academic dishonesty.
  • Teachers checked grades on a 4.0 scale before posting final course grades.
  • We aligned common codes in our gradebooks.
  • Teams piloted rolling gradebooks.

In 2020-2021, the following practices were put in place for the whole school.

  • Rolling gradebooks.
  • Retaking and/or redoing assessments.
    • Students will be permitted to retake or redo assignments and submit late work at a minimum until the end of the unit/unit assessment. Teachers and CTs can choose to accept late work and allow retakes/redos longer, for example until the end of the quarter or the end of the school year, as long as all team members are in agreement.

Implementation of both practices was inconsistent across the school. In addition, some teachers and CTs used a 100-point grading scale, and others used the 4.0 scale, and there were three different 4.0 scales utilized by teachers/CTs in three different departments.

For 2021-2022, West Potomac will systematize grading practices across the building as follows:

  • 4.0 Scale
  • Rolling Gradebook
  • Retakes & Re-dos

Common Grading Language

Standards

The standards for a course as determined by the state or district - in our case, the Virginia Standards of Learning.

Essential Standard or Essential Skill

The most important standards and skills for our students to know and be able to do by the end of the year.

Mastery

Fully understanding and applying the skill or standard appropriately.  

Rolling Gradebook

A rolling gradebook (formerly known as yearlong or cumulative gradebooks) is a cumulative document. Final grades are determined by a combination of all assignments and assessments. It is not an average of quarter marks. The grade posted at the end of each traditional quarter is a snapshot of a student’s current progress in the course.  Watch a video about how the rolling gradebooks created by WPHS teacher Mr. Colin O’Grady here

Summative Assessment

The goal of a summative assessment is to evaluate a student's level of mastery of essential course skills and POG skills at key inflection points and/or endpoints during the course.

Formative Assessment

The goal of a formative assessment is to evaluate student progress toward mastery of essential course skills.

  • Teachers will use these assessments to:
    • provide ongoing feedback to students
    • identify areas of need and to inform instructional decisions
  • Students will use these assessments to:
    • identify their progress towards mastery and target skills that need more practice
    • set goals and advocate for their learning 

Modern Classrooms Project

Modern Classrooms Project is an approach to learning that combines blended instruction, self-paced structures, and mastery-based grading throughout the learning process.  

Rubric

Set of guidelines used to promote the consistent application of learning expectations for a skill, standard, or unit of study

Grade Determination

  • For non skill-based assessments with a percentage grade, teachers will use FCPS Grading Scale to assign a grade on the 4.0 Scale.
    • For example, if a student earns an 89% on a multiple choice quiz, the teacher will record a grade of 3.3 in the grade book.
  • Assignments that are skill-based will use a rubric communicated to the students in advance, using whole numbers on the 4.0 Scale.
    • For example, if a student consistently demonstrates accurate and complete knowledge of content on a skill-based assignment the teacher will record a grade of 4.0 in the grade book.

FCPS Grading Scale

Grade 4.0 scale 100 Point Scale Definition
A 3.8-4.0 93-100 Designates the status of a student who consistently demonstrates accurate and complete knowledge of content and skills specified in the FCPS Program of Studies (POS) and applies that knowledge to solve problems in a variety of settings.
A- 3.4-3.7 90-92
B+ 3.1-3.3 87-89 Designates the status of a student who demonstrates knowledge of content and skills specified in the FCPS POS, with some improvement needed in accuracy and/or consistency in performance, applying that knowledge to solve problems in a variety of settings.
B 2.8-3.0 83-86
B- 2.4-2.7 80-82
C+ 2.1-2.3 77-79 Designates the status of a student who demonstrates knowledge of basic content and skills specified in the FCPS POS, but requires additional practice and instructional experiences to acquire skills necessary to solve problems.
C 1.8-2.0 73-76
C- 1.4-1.7 70-72
D+ 1.1-1.3 67-69 Designates the status of a student who needs significant practice and instructional experiences to acquire the knowledge of basic content and skills specified in the FCPS POS necessary to solve problems.  As a final mark, it is not necessarily sufficient to meet the prerequisite requirements.
D 0.8-1.0 64-66
F 0-0.7 50-63 Designates the status of a student who has not demonstrated the basic knowledge of content and/or skills specified in the FCPS POS and requires additional practice and instructional experiences in order to succeed.

Grading Communication

Families and students can access grades in our Student Information System (“SIS”) at any time.  Families and students can view SIS information on the FCPS website (ParentVUE or StudentVUE). Families and students can also view individual assignments for each course in Schoology. Although some grades might be visible in Schoology, grades are only accurately reported in SIS. Both families and students are encouraged to reach out to a teacher if they have questions about what they see in SIS.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do grades represent?

The grade earned indicates the level of mastery in accordance with the FCPS Program of Studies or the College Board’s Advanced Placement curriculum for each subject area.  Grades will be posted within seven school days after the due date with the understanding that major projects/papers may require additional time to ensure quality feedback. 

How will we know when assignments need to be turned in?

Teachers will enter due dates for assignments in Schoology. You can use the calendar feature to view due dates.  If you can’t find what you are looking for, please reach out to the teacher.

What comments will teachers use in their gradebooks?

The syllabus for your student’s course should explain all comments utilized in SIS.  The following comments are used consistently in all courses at West Potomac:

  • NTI- Not turned in (carries a weight of zero)

HCR- Honor Code Referral (used if the assignment is going through the Honor Code process.  There is no grade assigned with this code).

Do we offer extra credit?

Per FCPS policy, Students will not be given extra credit or grades for activities such as bringing in classroom materials, providing parent/guardian signatures, participating in fundraising/charitable events, or participating in non-curricular activities.

How will grades be calculated?

Teachers will communicate on their course syllabi how the rolling gradebook will be used, as well as corresponding weighted categories, if applicable.

What are final exams like?

Teachers will communicate on their course syllabi how the final exam or culminating activity will impact the overall grade. 

How do quality points work for honors and AP classes?

For students who pass an AP/HNs course, an additional 1.0/.5 quality point will be added to the quality point value assigned to the final mark for purposes of calculating GPA.  Students enrolled in AP courses are strongly encouraged to take the culminating external examination associated with the course.  These standardized examinations are designed to measure content and skill mastery and a successful score may earn credit and advanced placement in college.  Information for students who choose not to participate in an AP exam for a course in which they are currently enrolled can be accessed by contacting the student’s counselor.

What if a student submits an assignment late?

Late work will be accepted to document mastery of learning through the end of the quarter, at a minimum, with no penalty to the grade.  Due dates can be found in the course calendar in Schoology.  Students should communicate with teachers about the need for flexibility regarding specific assignments in advance of due dates. Teachers and students will work together to determine a reasonable extension.  If the assignment is not turned in, the grade comment “NTI” will be used to calculate a zero in the grade book.

Will students be able to retake or revise assessments?

Students can retake or revise assessments during the quarter in which it was assigned.  

 

Is there an honor code at WPHS?

Yes.  More information about the Honor Code and Honor Code referral process can be found here

 

Who should I contact if I have a question about grading?

Students should reach out to their teacher if they have a question about a grade.  If there are still concerns after the student has contacted the teacher, parents should communicate with the teacher directly.  The expectation is that teachers respond to parent concerns within 48 hours. You may also reach out to your child’s school counselor who can help facilitate a conversation with the teacher.

Why was the grading practice changed to use the 4.0 grading scale? How is this a benefit to the students and how will they receive quality feedback through this system?

The 4.0 scale provides students with a more equitable and standardized assessment score. There is a larger variation in the 100 point scale for what an A, A-, B, B+, etc., could be when teachers have the option of a 10 point difference within a letter grade. The 4.0 scale also ensures that students are receiving the higher end of the grade scale.

Example: A student might receive a 97 as an A in the 100 point scale system in one class and the same student might receive a 95 as an A in the 100 point scale in a different class. The 4.0 scale pre-determines that an A, regardless of class or teacher, is a 4.0 and an A-, regardless of class or teacher, is a 3.7. These are the “highest ends of the range” (A = 3.8 - 4.0  and A- = 3.4. - 3.7).

How are teachers providing feedback to students in assessments when students receive a “4” or “3” or “2”? How does the 4.0 scale support teachers providing feedback?

Teachers are providing feedback as usual through formative assessments, grades, and the daily conversations and learning experiences in class. Feedback is one of the most important aspects for teaching and learning regardless of the scale being used, and teachers will continue to provide feedback with formative assessments and practice/preparation assignments. Embedded into the 4.0 scale is often the shift to a standards-based assessment system, where students receive detailed feedback and ongoing assessment opportunities to develop mastery over time on the discrete skills within a larger unit or assessment experience. As students receive grades on the essential standards and skills of a course, they are receiving MORE information and feedback on their skill level in the standards so that teachers can provide more personalized learning opportunities and reassessment opportunities for students in order to support students as they “master” skills and deeply understand content standards over time.

Example: In English 10, the standards of “Identify an Author’s Intended Meaning”, “Provide evidence to support a claim” and “Analyze evidence to explain the author’s intended meaning” are all essential skills within a larger analysis essay assessment. Students receive a score for these essential skills in the grade book on a 4.0 scale. Instead of simply receiving an “88” on an essay, students are provided scores for each skill/standard, such as “thesis statement”, “integration of evidence,” analysis of literary elements”. This provides more specific and concrete feedback and students are able to focus on specific essential skills as they reassess or in the next assessment opportunity. The students are given more information to track their growth in the skills over time.

*Note: at the beginning of the learning experience/unit/year, these skills are “new” to a student or the level/cognitive demand is higher than the previous year or unit, it is common that students may not be proficient at first, which will reflect a lower assessment score. However, the skills-based system provides multiple opportunities for students to continue to develop and reassess the essential skills in order to move toward mastery. Students often have multiple formative assessments before they have a summative assessment.

How was the 4.0 scale, standards-based grading and rolling grade book system explained to students?

Teachers have common syllabi with common language across the school and departments regarding formative and summative assessments and learning opportunities. Grade level and content level teams have common grading practices.

How are my student’s grades reported to colleges and universities?

Only the student’s final grade is reported on official transcripts which are requested by Colleges and Universities.