Upper Merion Area High School Course Grading
Science and Technology
UMAHS Schoolwide Position on Grading
At UMAHS we believe that all grading should directly reflect student achievement of the objectives of each course. We believe that grading is an important communication tool that must be clearly outlined for students and parents. We believe in reassessment because we value the end goal of measuring learning over when that learning takes place. And finally, we believe that the final course grade should be the most accurate and fair measure of each individual student’s understanding of the course content.
Description of Grading Calculation
This course will be graded on a conjunctive basis, where mastery of an identified core of skills and concepts will be required to earn a passing grade, regardless of scores on other graded work. These “Benchmark Assessments” will be offered as many times as the student needs, with opportunities to get help between attempts.
Once the Benchmark Assessments have been mastered, the student’s grade will be determined by averaging three types of assessments: regular class assignments, assessments, and projects. These three grading categories will be give roughly equal weight in the student’s final grade.
Unit Assessments: Benchmark quizzes will be given once each benchmark is completed to show understanding and application. Unit tests are graded on a percentage basis, with a mix of free-response and multiple-choice questions. Re-tests do not simply replace the first test score, but make it possible to earn a passing grade for the test.
Regular Class Assignments: This grading category includes work completed in class and/or for homework, giving practice for skills and concepts in the course curriculum. Late work will be accepted within the district’s marking period, but only a pattern of regular class assignments submitted on time will produce an A average in this grading category.
Major Projects: This project will be introduced and developed over roughly four weeks, offering students an opportunity to explore creative approaches to engineering problems and science experiments. Students will be evaluated based on their documentation, application, successfulness and reflection of project.
Major grades will be given significant emphasis and assistance during class, and will stretch over a period of several weeks. Opportunities will be given to resolve questions and develop a work-plan with several chances to check in with the teacher. Requests for extension can be made prior to the deadline without grade deduction. A student who misses deadlines on these major grades cannot expect to earn an A, regardless of the quality of the final work. When major grades are incomplete, it is expected that they will be completed in order to receive a passing grade for the marking period.
Rationale for Grading Calculation
One major purpose of this course is to prepare students for Keystone Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. The Benchmark Assessment system ensures that students cannot move on without mastering essential skills and concepts, by averaging satisfactory work with unsatisfactory work. Since these skills and concepts are essential, students are given as much help as needed and as many attempts as needed. The number of attempts a student made before earning full credit will have no bearing on their grade. When a student stops making progress on these assessments, messages will be sent to confirm that they are in danger of failing the course, but the only real failure is giving up.
In addition, students are expected to complete every major project and test. Although an incomplete grade will be treated as a zero in the gradebook, teachers will make every effort to help students complete this work. When a student does poor work, their grade will be recorded as a “D”. It should never be considered an option to skip one of these major grades.
Students can demonstrate excellence in many ways. The averaging of Major Grades allows students to be recognized for their strengths while working to improve in other areas. Test scores reward thorough preparation and ability to apply concepts in new situations, under some pressure. Major projects reward creative ideas and the ability to manage assignments with many parts over a period of time. Regular class exercises reward persistence and disciplined work habits. Failing grades can always be improved to passing grades, so a single poor result would not necessarily prevent a student from achieving their desired grade.
Extra credit is not part of the grading scheme, although teachers may decide to offer alternative forms of assessment when that is a better reflection of student accomplishment. . When five or six major grades result in an average of a high B, for instance, it means that the student’s work regularly missed the standards for excellence in that area. Since the average is based on a long-term pattern of major work, small “extra-credit” assignments should not be necessary to distinguish between “average”, “good”, and “excellent” work over the course of a marking period.
In general, a grade of D is given to work that is poor, but not failing. It generally represents a level of proficiency, but a pattern of neglect.
A grade of C is given to work that is acceptable, but not good. It generally represents a level of proficiency, but a lack of rigor in the final product.
A grade of B is given to work that is good, but not excellent. It represents a level of proficiency and an attention to detail in correcting mistakes and omissions when necessary.
A grade of A is reserved for work that is excellent. It represents not only proficiency and attention to detail, but exemplary work with elements of creativity, ambition, and consistency.