What You Need to Know: New AACPS Grading Regulation
We took the 20 pages of Anne Arundel County Public Schools‘ new grading regulation (download it here), and boiled it down to a “what you need to know” format so that parents can read this and ask informed questions about the policy at Back to School night.
The new grading policy will go into effect at the beginning of school (Aug. 27 and 28). As a regulation, the change did not need to be approved by the Anne Arundel County Board of Education. The document covers teacher and student responsibilities in Elementary, Middle and High Schools and includes programs like International Baccalaureate, internships and other special circumstances.
The first change is that teachers must begin each grade or course of study by giving students a syllabus with the grading process and specific contact information for the teacher. The syllabus will also include the weighting of assignments like tests, quizzes and homework. In addition, the teacher must describe his or her availability for reteaching and reassessment (more on this later).
In Elementary School, homework can not count as much as work completed at school. In first and second grades, all teachers must keep a record of student performance in each academic area assessed on the report card (Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, Science, etc). For third through fifth grade, teachers must make assessment entries in core subjects on every student every five to eight school days. Each of those records should note the activity observed, evaluation and task.
Generally speaking, middle and high school students are treated the same. For example, cheating (academic dishonesty) will result in a grade of zero for both middle and high school students. Also, the regulation says that teachers should assign a minimum grade of 50 percent to any assignment where a student made a good faith effort.
The regulation says that across all grades, students should be provided opportunities for cooperative learning as part of college and career readiness (including elementary, middle and high school students).
In Middle School and High School, one of the big changes is the flexibility in accepting late assignments:
“All assignments shall have a due date. Assignments submitted after the due date shall be penalized on a sliding scale basis, as described in the syllabus or course outline, and determined by the course content team in advance. The outside date for late work to be submitted shall be five school days from the original due date.”
In addition, middle and high school students will now have an opportunity to improve their grades on qualifying tests and assignments. To qualify for a redo, the student has to have completed and submitted the original assignment or test by the due date and participated in teacher-facilitated re-teaching (before, during or after school). The recorded grade will be the higher of the two scores. Some assignments are ineligible for the redo clause, particularly finals and end-of-term research reports.
In high school, teachers must record at least nine separate assignments or assessments, averaging one grade per week, in addition to homework.
The amount of time students spend on homework is defined as follows:
- Pre-K and Kindergarden: 20 minutes, twice a week
- Grades 1 and 2: 30 minutes, 3- to 4-times a week
- Grades 3, 4, 5: 45 minutes, 3- to 4-times a week
- Middle School: an hour of homework 4- to 5-times a week
- High School: 90 minutes per night, 4- to 5-times a week except for certain honors, Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) and other advanced programs, which may require more time commitment to homework.
The new rules say that teachers will provide feedback for assigned homework and maintain precise records to document grades earned. The policy states that:
‘Homework should be worth 10 to 15 percent of the grade. Within this framework, each school and content team will have flexibility.”
Grades will include percentages and letter grades using the following scale:
|100% – 90%||A||Excellent mastery of standards is evident.|
|89% – 80%||B||Advanced mastery of standards is evident.|
|79% – 70%||C||Acceptable, average mastery of standards is evident.|
|69% – 60%||D||Partial mastery of standards is evident.|
|59% or less||E||Minimal or no mastery of standards is evident. (no credit toward graduation)|
Grade point averages shall include weighted grading for honors (.5), Advanced Placement (1), International Baccalaureate (1), Post AP (1).
The GPA shall be calculated as follows:
- 4.0 – 3.6 = A
- 3.5 – 2.6 = B
- 2.5 – 1.6 = C
- 1.5 – .6 = D
- .5 or less = E
Finally, each high school shall annually designate a graduating valedictorian and salutatorian based on the highest weighted GPA. In the event of a tie, there will be no salutatorian.
The grading policy was arrived at by a team from Central office and teachers from each of the grades who volunteered their time to work on the grading system reform. The new policy will be included as part of student information at the beginning of the year.