New grading system to begin
Northampton Area School District is poised to implement a new grading system.
NASD Board of Education has been briefed about the new system, known as Standards-Based Reporting.
Students and parents have been notified of the changes.
Information, a chart and an explanatory video can be found at nasdschools.org/sbr.
Making the approximate one-hour presentation about the new grading system at the May 6 school board meeting were Dr. Lori Kuhns, NASD assistant director of curriculum and instruction; Michelle Schoeneberger, K-12 math-science supervisor; Nicolette Teles, K-12 reading-writing supervisor: and Andrew Czekner, Tammie Tacker and Beth Wolfel, NASD teachers.
“It goes beyond grades. It’s a more accurate view of the student,” Schoeneberger said.
The new reporting system will be implemented for kindergarten, first- and second-grade students in district elementary schools this fall for the 2019-20 school year.
The system is to be implemented for third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students in district elementary schools for the 2020-21 school year.
The system is to be implemented for sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students at Northampton Area Middle School in the 2021-22 school year.
The grading system won’t change for ninth-, 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade students. Percentage-based grading is to continue for Northampton Area High School students.
Teles said the goal is “making sure we can count on the best record of student achievement.”
Rather than a typical letter grade or numerical grade, there will be a four-point grading system, as follows:
4 (the highest designation) — “The learner consistently demonstrates mastery of grade-level standards.”
3 — “The learner understands the concepts and skills and is able to make connections independently.”
2 — “The learner understands the concepts and skills but needs help making connections.”
1 — “The learner is starting to understand the concepts and skills but does not see how they are connected.”
“We want to articulate more meaningful feedback,” Teles said of the reason for the change.
“Parents will have a clear understanding of what’s going on in the classroom,” Schoeneberger said.
Also, the district’s four marking periods will be changed to three marking periods.
School board Vice President Chuck Frantz and school Directors Dr. Michael Baird, James Chuss, Chuck Longacre, Ross Makary and Robert Mentzell asked several detailed questions about the new system, its implementation and its effect on parent-teacher meetings.
“If I have a student who has a 92 and one who has a 91, can I really tell the difference? Probably not,” Schoeneberger said.
“With this type of reporting, it should be more accurate,” Teles said. “It provides more meaningful feedback to students and parents. The instruction is more targeted. It fosters quality conversations between students, teachers and parents.”
“I really think it’s going to give us a better picture of the student, rather than a random number,” Schoeneberger said.
A committee of NASD administrators and teachers researched the new system and visited area school districts where it is in use.
The K-12 grading committee was established in the 2016-17 school year. Grading procedures and guidelines were determined.
Committee members designed information packets for parents and produced the website video.
“This has been discussed for at least a year,” NASD Superintendent of Schools Joseph S. Kovalchik said.