Equitable Standards-based Grading System Next Year

Sevilla Tovar, Staff Writer

   Beginning in the 2021-2022 school year, San Diego Unified School District will be changing its grading policies in order to prioritize growth in learning, and make it easier for students of underprivileged backgrounds to succeed.

   According to The San Diego Union Tribune, “District data have shown that Black, Hispanic, Native American and Pacific Islander high school students are significantly more likely to be given D and F grades” (sandiegotribune.com).

   Members of the San Diego Board of Education took initiative and decided to make a change in the way teachers grade as a whole. According to CBS, Board Vice President Richard Barrera said, “If we want to be an anti-racist school district, we’ve got to confront those issues” (cbs8.com).

   The board will be adopting the practice called standards based grading. According to the Educational journal Kappan, “We discovered that standards based grading practices demonstrated stronger correlations between grades and standardized test scores, including among minority and economically disadvantaged students, than traditional grading practices” (kappanonline.org).

   The district will be changing the way they view grades, as well as how external factors affect them. “Academic grades will only be about showing progress toward ‘mastery of standards,’ rather than rewarding students for completing a certain quantity of work,” according to Pacific Beach Monthly (pbmonthly.net).

   One of the already-implemented features of this grading policy is that late work will be accepted for full credit, although individual schools were given the choice as to exactly how this procedure rolled out (pbmonthly.com).

   The new grading system will focus explicitly on meeting particular standards, rather than the old combination of assignments, homework, exams and extra credit. According to Forbes, “In a traditional approach, we’re used to the idea of bonuses and enrichment laced throughout the class. In standards based grading, only what’s listed as a standard counts” (forbes.com).

   English Teacher Della June illuminated on the district’s progress. She said, “We’re already changing our grading policies. It’s all in the name of trying to make it more equitable. We’re trying to make grading more equitable, and we’re also trying to make sure that more students are actually reaching proficient levels.”

   Student’s well being surrounding grades are the top priority. Barrera said, “We know that students at different times struggle; we know that some students may take a little bit of time to get material. What we don’t want is students to just give up” (cbs8.com).

   Sophomore Lillian Frederickson said, “Not everyone has time to work on every little assignment due to varying home lives and extracurricular activities. I can definitely see this being very beneficial to mine, and many other students’ futures.”

   The grades students are accustomed to will be changed to reflect numbers describing how close the student is to proficiency in the standards for the course. According to PowerSchool, “Instead of the all or nothing, percentages and letter grades system, standards-based approaches consider evidence of learning and the data it produces in different ways” (powerschool.com).

   According to the San Diego Unified School District, PowerSchool’s new tools, such as definitions for academic and citizenship marks, as well as grading comments, will be able to be utilized starting for the 2021-22 school year (sandiegounified.org).