Nashua student: grades should represent learning

The Nashua Board of Education is considering a new grading system that would replace the 100-point scale with an 11-point scale more reflective of the district’s move to competency-based education, reported the Nashua Telegraph.

The traditional system is often incompatible with a true competency-based model of learning. For example, CBE places emphasis on mastery of content, acknowledging that mistakes are part of the learning and growth process. Students progress to more advanced concepts when they demonstrate mastery of earlier stage concepts – often called “move on when ready.”  There’s also more consistency in grading among schools and districts because, instead of measuring how well a student meets an individual teacher’s expectations, grades measure how well a student grasps a set of common standards.

Under the traditional grading system, students work towards points issued on projects, tests, or other assignments given at one point in time–often removing the incentive to learn material that the student missed or misunderstood.  As a result, students may accumulate credits without having mastered the concepts and skills required of the course.  Traditional grading of that kind emphasizes snapshots of student performance rather than overall student progress towards learning goals, as a Nashua student told the city’s Department of Education:

Student member to the board Alexandra Norris from Nashua High School North said the 11-point scale more accurately reflects student proficiency with their studies.

“With the 100-point scale, we’re more concerned with minute gradation,” she said. For instance, she said the difference between an 83 and 82 is not significant, but can change the GPA calculation for a student. “I consider accuracy as more ‘does my grade represent my learning?'”

Read the full article here.