Standards-based report cards:
Report cards will be sent home four times per year, approximately two weeks after the end of each quarter. When you receive your child’s report card, you will notice that it is set up differently than a more traditional report card. This is because Athlos Academy uses a standards-based grading approach to tracking student progress.
Standards-based grading is different from traditional grading in that we measure a student’s mastery of grade-level standards by prioritizing the most recent, consistent level of performance (see the four-point grading scale). Thus, a student who struggled at the beginning of a course when first encountering new material may still earn a grade reflecting proficiency at the end of a grading period. This is different from a traditional grading system in which a student’s performance for an entire quarter is averaged together, meaning early quiz scores that were low are averaged together with more proficient performance later in the course, resulting in a lower overall grade than current performance indicates. A standards-based report card provides more meaningful feedback (with a focus on growth) so families can track progress and students can set goals for improvement.
Grading of student work:
You will notice a difference in the way student assignments are graded. Practice assignments (homework and classwork) are just that, practice. Teachers may “grade” them in order to offer feedback, plan instructional support, and track work habits, but scores on practice assignments are not calculated into a final grade.
Graded final assessments (e.g. end-of-unit tests, quizzes, or projects) are only given after students have had plenty of time to learn and practice concepts. These final assessments are viewed as celebrations of learning in which students can show off what they know and can do. You may already have noticed that these final assessments are also graded a little differently.
First of all, a final assessment is typically checking what a student knows and can do on multiple standards, so each test or project will usually receive more than one grade. Take a science test for example. One question might ask the student to explain a science concept using a well-constructed written response. The student can receive one grade for content knowledge and one for writing in science (two separate standards) on the same task.
The second main difference between Athlos grading practices and traditional schools is the grading scale. Student achievement is measured on a four-point scale. This scale represents a different yet powerful way of looking at student work and therefore cannot be converted into the more familiar letter or percentage grades. Take some time to read through the descriptions at each level, noticing how the language used can help encourage students as they work towards mastery of grade-level standards.
Additional resource: Standards-based grading - a baking analogy.
At Athlos Academy, student-led conferences take the place of traditional parent-teacher conferences. Through the process of planning for and leading their own conferences, students are empowered to honestly reflect on their learning, take ownership of their successes and challenges, and set specific goals for the future. Student-led conferences will occur twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring.
The Athlos student portfolio system offers students a formal way to showcase their work. Portfolios have sections for each Athlos pillar (Prepared Mind, Healthy Body, and Performance Character) and display evidence of students meeting standards. The portfolios also offer an opportunity to highlight growth and development and will be used during the student-led conferences.