The goal of a proficiency-based grading system is to produce grades that more accurately reflect students’ learning progress and achievement, taking into account instances in which students may have struggled early in the semester or school year but have since put in the effort and hard work necessary to meet expected standards.
Numbers and letters used in grading systems are essentially signifiers whose significance is based on the validity of the methods used to assign grades.
To rephrase, the quality of the techniques used to issue grades determines their correctness, authority, and reliability. The consistency, reliability, and usefulness of students’ grades are directly related to the quality of the school’s assessment and reporting system, which in turn is based on consistently applied learning standards and aligned assessments. Less important than the mechanism used to assign a grade is the numbers or letters used to report, monitor, and record academic accomplishment.
Teachers often use a standard method to calculate students’ final grades at the conclusion of each semester or trimester, and those marks typically lie somewhere on the 4.0 scale. It is possible that students under a proficiency-based system may not be able to demonstrate mastery of all unit or lesson goals, but their final course marks will still reflect an aggregate score between 3 and 4.
A passing grade in the course is not enough to guarantee graduation; students must also show that they have met all graduation requirements. This means that students who do not exhibit overall attainment of a needed benchmark for graduation may still finish the course with a passing grade provided they perform well enough in individual assessments.
No matter where on the 4.0 scale the passing grade is set, we advise that schools provide enough gradations above and below competency. Teachers should be able to distinguish between students who are near to but not quite at the competence level, and those who have reached that level already.
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At Dunes Academy, our educators are more than teachers; they are mentors, guides, and partners in each student’s educational journey. With a collaborative approach, we create an environment where students thrive academically and personally.