Teachers Discuss New K-5 Grading System at HSD Board Meeting

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The Hermiston School District Board of Education on Monday, Sept. 11, heard an update on the new grading system the district’s elementary schools implemented this school year.

Sunset Elementary School Principal Erin Andreason told board members the Standards Based Grading has meshed with the PLC practice at the K-5 level.

“PLC is our professional learning community. And we meet from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. every Wednesday at the elementary level. And basically it just provides an extended opportunity for us to collaborate with our teams,” Andreason said.

She said PLC has been happening in the HSD for more than 17 years, but as teachers and their understanding of their students’ needs has evolved, so has PLC practices.

Andreason had several PLC members from Sunset Elementary School present PLC components and how the priority standards and rubric have helped focus their meetings.

Instructional coach Susan Frink said there are six principles embedded in the PLC process, including basing grades and reports on specific learning goals and performance standards, evidence used in grading will be valid and not all performances should be included in grades and should instead be used to inform instruction.

Frink said the English language art, English language development and math committees have met and identified priority standards for K-5. Physical education teacher Shawna Yeager said for physical education the use of standard-based grading will begin next school year unlike the other PLC committees. She said the PE PLC committee will spend this year developing its standards and rubric.

“Our PLC has changed tremendously from talking about the standard-based grading,” said Yeager. “Before it was kind of like not a lot of comparison of data. We weren’t all aligned on what we were doing in the different schools, as of now we are aligned as we are working on our standards and developing our assessments and rubric for those assessments.”

Frink finished the presentation, explaining the new rubric created by the ELA, ELD and math PLC committees. Frink said each priority standard is based on a rubric of one to four that helps identify a student’s level of proficiency in a subject and teachers are aiming for a benchmark of three.

Frink said the rubric helps teachers answer important questions regarding students’ proficiency levels, such as “Where are we going? and how do I move learning forward?”

Frink said the rubric helps teachers identify what specific areas students need help in so they can then come up with a solution to address those needs. This use of the rubric also will allow parents to have a more detailed idea of what their children’s strengths and weaknesses are and how they can contribute to helping their children improve.

Andreason addressed school board questions about any feedback teachers had gathered from parents regarding the new rubric during a recent open house. She said the event didn’t allow much parental feedback, but teachers will have another opportunity at the Parents Make a Difference Night on Oct. 5 at Desert View Elementary School.

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