• Guiding Principles

    • The first step to effective grading practices is to clearly identify and articulate what students need to know and be able to do in that class or subject (Marzano).
    • Report cards provide a summary of progress towards key grade level standards. Students work toward these standards through daily learning targets (Berger, et al; Stiggins).
    • Although a report card reflects progress towards standards over the entire grading period, it is important to remember that learning is developmental. Recent information and patterns of growth should weigh more than earlier indicators of progress (O’Connor, Stiggins).
    • Student behaviors, work habits, and character traits, should be documented separately from academic progress and academic achievement.
    • The practice of assigning zeros for incomplete or missing work in the grade book is not best practice. It does not reflect the student’s learning on the subject, may significantly skew the grade outcome, and may serve as a disciplinary response to poor work habits. Educators should find other ways to address the behavior of completing and turning in work (Stiggins, O’Connor).
    • Report cards are one important communication tool between teachers, students and parents, to reflect how a student’s progress compares to grade level standards. Teachers should maintain other modes of communication as well.
    • Every student receives a report card reflecting their progress in the general education curriculum.
      • For students with IEPs, the school also provides IEP progress notes to report information about that student’s progress toward their individual IEP goals.
    • Accommodations – changes in the presentation, access, or response mode of the material that do NOT change the learning construct – should not require a change in grading practices on the report card.
    • Modifications – changing the learning construct in depth, breadth, or complexity – DO require a change in grading practices on the report card.


    Procedural Guidance

    Report Cards:

    • All students receive a general education report card, no exceptions.
    • For students accessing curriculum in the standard way (including students with IEPs):
      • Grading should occur in the standard way.
      • General Education teacher assigns and submits the grade for the report card.
    • For students accessing curriculum with accommodations (including students with IEPs):
      • Grading should occur in the standard way. The learning target or construct must not be changed.
        • Ways that the information is provided to the student or how the student shows their learning may be different from other students – but the student is still expected to demonstrate learning related to the same standards.
      • Accommodations may be outlined in a student’s IEP, TAG or EL plan, or may be implemented in a Universal Design manner, where any student may access those accommodations as needed.
      • General Education teacher assigns and submits the grade for the report card.
        • Learning Specialist and General Education teacher may consult about grades to ensure accommodations were considered and implemented.
    • For students with IEPs accessing curriculum with modifications (may ONLY be students with IEPs)
      • The ideas of learning should be based in grade level standards but may have significantly reduced depth, breadth, and complexity.
      • Only students with an IEP that says “modified curriculum” in that content area may access modifications. (This should be very few students.)
      • The Learning Specialist and General Education teacher should plan at the beginning of the term to anticipate what that student will learn – keeping appropriately high expectations for that student’s learning.
        • If sub support or additional planning time is needed at the start of the year or semester, reach out to Building Principal or Student Services Office.
      • Learning Specialist and General Education teacher should be in communication throughout the year about modifying materials, appropriate peer supports, and modified assessments.
      • Grading should occur in an individualized way, reflecting that student’s progress toward the modified learning targets. (i.e. a student may be doing very different work from the rest of the class, but may earn a grade of “A” or “Meets” if they meet their targets for individualized progress toward modified learning targets).
      • General Education teacher assigns and submits the grade for the report card.
      • Learning Specialist and General Education teacher should consult about grades to assess how that student’s learning aligns with the standard that was modified in depth, breadth, or complexity.
      • The report card MUST reflect that the grade was modified.
        • Use comment #75 “Other: Modified Curriculum” and/or #76 “Other: Modified Grading”
      • High School Transcripts must clearly designate any classes with modified curriculum.
        • Learning Specialists need to clearly communicate with the School Counselor, using the Semester Analysis tool, to make sure the modified classes are appropriately designated on the transcript, by manually changing the name of the class (e.g. from “Biology” to “Modified Biology”).
        • Students may receive modified coursework in some classes and regular coursework (and grades) in other classes.

    IEP Progress Reports:

    • IEP Progress Reports must be provided to parents or adult students (18+) at least as often as general education report cards are provided.
    • The IEP Team may decide that IEP Progress Reports should be provided more often. If so, this should be reflected on the IEP.
    • IEP Progress Reports reflects the student’s progress toward their individual IEP goals.
    • The Progress Report should provide an “apples to apples” data view, connected to the baseline data used at the time of the IEP development, as well as narrative information on the student’s progress.

    Diploma Consent:

    • Before a student can receive Modified curriculum (and grades), the IEP team needs to decide that Modification is appropriate.
    • If a HS student is receiving Modified curriculum (and grades), they will likely receive a Modified Diploma. The parent (or adult student) needs to sign the Modified Diploma consent form.
    • See the Transition & Graduation page for more information about Diploma options and consent.

    Flowchart for Grading Exceptional Learners




    How do I assign a grade if the student does not officially have Modified Content/Grading on their IEP, but we are modifying content for them anyway?

    A student should not be receiving modified content unless the IEP team has determined that they need modifications. Some students may receive accommodations that allow a student to access the grade-level material without specific documentation (on an IEP or 504). But if we are changing the content expectations (modification), then it needs to be documented as an IEP team decision. The teacher should not assign a modified grade for a student who does not have modifications for that subject listed on their IEP.

    This presents a particular problem for middle school students. If MS teachers are providing modified content and grades without documenting it on the IEP, then HS teachers will not know that the student truly needs modified curriculum. The student may end up failing classes during their first semester of HS, which may make it difficult for them to catch up and graduate (with a standard or modified diploma).

    Do I grade "easier" if a student has accommodations on their IEP?

    No. All students are evaluated based on the same grade-level standards (unless they have modifications on the IEP). A student may have accommodations that change the way content is delivered or the way they demonstrate their learning. But we still expect students with accommodations to learn the same grade-level content and skills.