Clintonville High School students are becoming acclimated to a new grading system. The system places less emphasis on homework, but requires students to do all the homework in order to pass a class.
Lance Bagstad, principal at Clintonville High School, said under the new grading system, homework will account for 15 percent of a student’s grade. The remainder of the grade will be determined by summative assessment projects, i tests, and written assignments.
“We want to make sure that a grade is reflective of what kids know and what kids can do rather than, I use the phrase, ‘How well kids play school,'” Bagstad said. “Participating, raising your hand, showing up, they are all important things but they really don’t tell us what a kid knows or what a kid can do.”
Bagstad said the new grading system had been under discussion with the entire high school staff since last year. He said he did a lot of research to come up with the system the district decided to use. Students were also made aware of the new system last year.
“There are schools out there where homework counts as nothing. There are others where it is five percent,” Bagstad said.
One reason for the new system was that students had figured out the “system” to know they didn’t have to do all their homework and still pass the class, Bagstad said.
“We are no longer willing to accept that kids aren’t going to do certain assignments,” Bagstad said.
If a student doesn’t do all their homework in a class, they will receive an incomplete. The incomplete can turn into a failing grade if the undone homework isn’t completed.
“Students can’t hand in a poorly done assignment. It has to have met the minimum standard for the lowest passing grade possible,” Bagstad said.
To help encourage students to do all of the assignments, if a student has completed all the assignments prior to a summative assessment, the student earns the opportunity to redo the summative assessment, Bagstad said. The summative assessment won’t be the same as the one originally taken by the student.
“What we are saying to kids is, maybe you didn’t do well on that summative assessment as you had hoped, but you did all the practice work leading up to that, so you’ve earned an opportunity to go back and prove and relearn some things and reprove that you have learned that. It gives a student the opportunity to improve their grade.”
If a student redoes a summative assessment, they get the second grade, even if it is worse than the grade they received on the first attempt.
Bagstad said the goal and the intent wasn’t to change how teachers teach material. He said it has probably caused teachers to think more about what work they are having students do and the assignments they are giving, and how that translates to students learning and understanding.
“We know there is going to be, over the course of time, we are going to have to make little tweaks and adjustments,” Bagstad said. “This is new to everybody, so we are learning the process together.”