District 51 middle schools to try out new grading system

New curriculum this fall will come with a new grading system for middle school students in School District 51.

The district will pilot a new grading program for sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students at all middle schools this year, excluding Fruita 8/9 School.

Students will still receive letter grades, but each letter will correspond to an expected level of fluency in a subject. For example, an “A” would mean a student mastered all concepts taught in units in a class that quarter, while a “D” would mean the student needs more time to master those concepts.

The old system was more subjective, District 51 Executive Director of Instructional Support Jody Mimmack said. Teachers across the district and even within a school differed in their views of what “A” level work looked like and how much weight a student’s behavior should carry in grading.

“We looked at samples from middle schools across the district, and each teacher had a different setup. We’re trying to set consistency to level the playing field,” Mimmack said.

Middle school report cards will include a letter grade that reflects academic prowess and a separate grade for behavior, including a student’s attendance record, ability to work well with others, and how often a student turns in assignments on time.

Brad Junge, parent of a seventh-grader at Bookcliff Middle School, Quinn, said he hadn’t heard about the new grading system before a reporter told him about it, but he likes the idea.

“It sounds like a good idea to split actual academic achievement from the behavior aspect of grading. It would focus in more on academic achievement and still identify behavior problems if there are any,” he said.

Junge said the system might require more work for teachers and may confuse parents if they aren’t exactly sure how a “B” in the old system compares to a “B” in the new system. Mimmack said the new grading system will be explained to parents at back-to-school nights, and information will be available on Parent Bridge.

She eventually hopes to learn enough from the middle-school-grading pilot program to form a new grading system for high schools and elementary schools. The new grading system for high schools likely will mirror the new middle school system in most aspects, Mimmack said, but would have to factor in Advanced Placement classes, electives and sports eligibility.


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