FARMINGTON — Regional School Unit 9 Superintendent Tina Meserve and Curriculum Coordinator Laura Columbia reviewed the hybrid standard-based grading and assessment system implemented at the start of the 2018-19 school year with directors Tuesday evening.

In 2012, state law established graduation standards based on students’ proficiency. Districts were given five years to comply with the standards, often referred to as proficiency-based education. The law was repealed in July 2018, allowing school administrative units to choose between continuing proficiency-based education or traditional grading requirements.

At the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, RSU 9 implemented a blended system of traditional grading on a 0–100 scale and assessment of students on standards and learning targets for students in grades 6-10.

“Just to clarify a common misconception, we really are not doing (proficiency-based education)” she said. “We are doing standards-based grading and reporting with aspects of (proficiency-based education).”

The focus is on instructional practices, Meserve said.

Columbia said staff, students and families were surveyed throughout the school year regarding the grading system. Data was also gathered from student focus groups.

The data revealed assessment tools, known as rubrics, reporting standards and clear learning targets were highly valued, she said.

“One of the biggest obstacles was ensuring consistency and clarity,” she said. “This resulted in the creation of a family grading guide and a faculty grading and reporting guide.”

For added consistency, each teacher in grades 6-12 created a syllabus that was shared with students at the beginning of this school year.

“There was a template so it created commonality but there were options teachers could use at their discretion,” Columbia said.

Each syllabus required late work procedures, reassessment and revision procedures, habits of work expectations, content standards and learning targets, she said.

The data was brought back to the Educational Policy Committee, she said.

“There was a general improvement of understanding some of the aspects of the system,” Columbia said. “There were concerns about students having opportunities to exceed or being challenged in the classroom.”

Columbia said the next steps in the evaluation of the grading practice would be continued professional development and time for content standards and learning target review, and rubric use and implementation.

“We recommend continuing with the current grading and reporting practices as outlined in current policy and to review the graduation requirement policy to ensure it aligns with the law for traditional diploma,” she added.

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