Portola Pilot

Reading, Writing and Thinking: The New LLA Assessment System

The+new+grading+scale+is+out+of+four+points+that+correspond+with+the+learner%27s+performance+and+level+of+mastery+of+the+learning+targets+on+the+assignment.
The new grading scale is out of four points that correspond with the learner's performance and level of mastery of the learning targets on the assignment.

The new grading scale is out of four points that correspond with the learner's performance and level of mastery of the learning targets on the assignment.

The new grading scale is out of four points that correspond with the learner's performance and level of mastery of the learning targets on the assignment.

Ali Elmalky, Staff Writer

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The Literary and Language Arts department has introduced a new mastery learning assessment system this year in order to make grading practices more transparent for students and help student re-focus on the learning process. This is a standards-based grading system that closely aligns with Common Core State Standards.

“I think the change in grading practice is extremely positive for students. I am really excited by and believe in this new system, and I think it will be more common in the future,” freshman Literary and Language Arts teacher Madeline Greenwood said.

The change in the grading scales affects all students, though it primarily affects freshmen as sophomores transition to the new system.

The LLA department hopes this change will help shift students from seeing coursework as a burden to a medium for understanding content better.

“The system was kind of confusing to me at the beginning, but after Ms. Hicks explained it, I felt that it was a better system than the normal grading scale, because it rewards students for trying harder,” sophomore Brett Shin said.  

Instead of an A to F grading scale, students instead receive an assessment of one to four on a proficiency scale of a learning target. However, students will still receive letter grades at the end of the year. The new scale helps show students their mastery and progress on a certain goal, and students are exposed to each goal throughout the year.

“Instead of being arbitrary, we want assignments to show us what students really need to know in terms of reading, writing, speaking and listening,” long-term substitute teacher Diana Mullins said.

While both Mullins and Greenwood agree that the new system will be a positive change for students, there still are some issues that have arisen while transitioning.

Sometimes it has been difficult to convey the system to students and parents, especially in Aeries where the grades look a little different than the traditional grading scale,” Greenwood said.

In this mastery learning model, students are consistently working towards meeting a standard. If that student does not meet the standard on a given assessment, the student can demonstrate additional learning and growth and be re-assessed at a later date.

Understandably, grades are very important; however, the LLA department hopes to shift the emphasis from grades reflecting what students can’t do to focusing on what students can do,” Greenwood said.

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Reading, Writing and Thinking: The New LLA Assessment System