I am a district administrator in a mid-size Iowa school district that uses a standards-based grading philosophy. A number of years ago, I wrote about PowerSchool as a student information system and grade book as a teacher in the context of standards-based grading. Since that time, teachers in the district across all disciplines and grade levels have started to use standards-based grading. This system change has introduced a new set of questions about student information systems and grade books that I will attempt to describe in the following paragraphs.
In our elementary building, we have been communicating student learning through a standards-based report card for the past twenty or so years. No letter grades are assigned. We use an E (exceeding), P (proficient), D (developing) and AC (area of concern) scale for each student target.
Teachers communicate with parents individually throughout the school year through Friday Folders, phone calls, emails and parent/teacher conferences. For a variety of reasons, we do not use a student information system for the purpose of communicating student learning.
In our middle school and high school, we transitioned to a standards-based grading philosophy system-wide several years ago. Prior to this change, we had asked our parents to sign-up for daily or weekly email progress reports and emphasized a need to look for assignments in which their student may not have turned in. The grades reported online could be viewed as a timeline of activities and events written in ink. Parents may have asked teachers questions such as...
- What can my daughter do to raise her grade?
- Will there be any extra credit available in this class?
- Can my son turn in his missing Civil War project for partial credit?
- Is there any way my child can re-do the Chapter 3 Project?
- When is the next opportunity to reassess on [standard]?
- When was the last time my student was assessed on [standard]?
- What practice opportunities are available for my son to practice [standard]?
- What standards does my daughter still need to learn?
- visually appealing way for students and parents to easily identify students' current strengths and weaknesses;
- ability to sync with student information system (class rosters, course names, current grades) on a daily basis, so that teachers do not have to duplicate data entry, keep up with schedule changes, etc;
- and most importantly, alternative ways to convert standards into a final grade, calculated by the grade book.