Feedback on grading informs policy recommendations

Student grades are a standard measurement for understanding where a student is on their learning journey and a way to provide feedback to students. Ensuring our grading practices are equitable and consistent is critical to student success.

Last year the Teaching & Learning team began to develop a plan to examine the district’s 20-year old policy (2420) and regulation (2420R) that guides grading practices across all schools. Any policy changes must be approved by the School Board, but the Teaching & Learning team is working to provide recommendations for the Board to consider before next school year.

The team started by developing guiding principles, helping them develop a process and provide a framework for any recommended changes.

  • Students will have equitable access to culturally responsive grading practices.
  • Grading and report cards are communication tools that must help families understand their student's academic progress.
  • Staff will have standard support in delivering culturally responsive grading practices.

Gathering feedback from all stakeholders

Through in-person meetings and online surveys the team has worked to gather feedback from students, teachers and families. District leadership, including Board members attended listening sessions with students to hear first-hand their feedback and perspective on grading. In-person sessions were also conducted with teachers, in addition to an online survey for staff. And an online survey was sent to all parents/guardians, including translation in five additional languages.

Students were guided through a series of topics and questions, giving feedback on what they feel is working well, where they have challenges and frustrations, whether grades are accurate, feelings associated with grades and ideas for improvements. Many students expressed a desire for consistency and the need for a common scale.

Feedback from staff included in-person discussions and an online survey. Some themes gathered from staff input included the need for a common scale and support in ensuring families understand how grading works.

2,469 parents/guardians completed an online survey, see pdf with complete results. 57 percent of respondents strongly agreed that grades are important to their family, and that grades help their family make decisions on where their students need help. But families were not as sure about understanding grading scales and feeling confident grades accurately reflected student achievement or progress.

Next steps:

The Teaching & Learning Team has taken the feedback gathered and began to make suggested changes to the policy. This month the district’s cabinet will review and provide input on potential policy language. That draft language will be provided to the school board and the Equity Policy Review Team. Later in the Spring, the team will complete a second round of feedback loops and reach out to community partners for input before a final draft is presented to the School Board for a vote.

Project Timeline

  • Spring 2022 collected student voices from all secondary schools through Superintendent Student Advisory.
  • Fall 2022 review grade data with cabinet and stakeholders from the previous year.
  • December 2022 first teacher small group conversation to review TPS mission, vision, grading artifacts, student voice, collect teacher thinking, review policy, and start a family survey.
  • January 2023, visit high schools, most middle schools, and some elementary schools to collect more student voices with school board members and cabinet members.
  • February 2023, send out a family survey. Host teacher conversations to review students' voices, hear from each other, and rethink policy language. Repeat this process for school administrators K-12 and Instructional Coaches.
  • March 2023 cabinet will review and provide input on policy language. Begin drafting policy language for the school board and the Equity Policy Review Team.
  • Spring 2023, complete the second round of feedback loops similar to above for the first round and reach out to community partners for input before the final draft for school board approval.

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