School of the Future Competency-Based Grading Policy 2023-2024
What is competency-based grading?
SOF seeks to guide and develop our diverse students to be motivated and curious learners. As such, our Competency-based Grading System, JumpRope, makes explicit the skills and content prioritized in each course and over time at School of the Future. The system helps students understand the ways in which they are doing well and how they might improve in intentional ways.
We value progress and the demonstration of learning over completion of isolated assignments. Our gradebooks in JumpRope are organized around content-specific “Learning Outcomes” that name authentic components of success in a given course. Students earn scores from 1-4 on assessments. Rubrics for assessments are shared with and explained to students ahead of time, so that they understand the expectations that underlie SOF’s 1-4 scale. These scores communicate how students are progressing toward competency in skills and content in their courses.
SOF’s grading system provides multiple and varied opportunities to demonstrate competency and growth, which ideally reduces unhealthy stress and increases actionable feedback, goal setting, and self-reflection. We want our students’ focus to be directed at learning as much as possible.
What does competency-based grading mean for school-wide grading policies?
- In collaboration with the NYCDOE’s Competency Collaborative, School of the Future employs a uniform grading system throughout the school. Teachers may have additional policies that align with school-wide policies and DOE Academic Policy.
What is scored and recorded in the JumpRope gradebook?
- Student’s daily homework and classwork are not recorded in JumpRope; only the assessments of their learning outcomes are scored and recorded. This is so that students can view daily work as practice opportunities to improve their Learning Outcomes rather than as checklists of work to get done. We want them to focus on the current learning in which the class is actively engaged. The goal is for students not to angst over individual assignments but for them to reflect on how their practice habits impact their learning over time. Thus, rather than listing daily assignments in the JumpRope gradebook, we regard “Work Habits/Independent Practice” as a Learning Outcome worth 10% of the grade in High School and 15% of the grade in Middle School. Teachers enter a score for this outcome every week or every other week using this rubric. Some teachers record student completion of daily assignments on Google Classroom and communicate with students and families about which assignments they should prioritize if a student is struggling.
- In addition to the Work Habits/Independent Practice outcome, teachers assess at least three other Learning Outcomes within each unit of study that relate to the skills and content of the course and discipline.
- Students have at least three “Checkpoint Assessments” for each Learning Outcome in a unit of study. Checkpoint Assignments are scored on a rubric shared with students ahead of time. Students earn a score from 1-4 that communicates their current level of competency in the outcome: Not Yet; Approaching Competency; Application of Competency; Integration.
How do students receive feedback on their progress?
- Students receive feedback daily about how to improve their work. Feedback can come in the form of whole-class lessons that teachers write in response to what they are seeing in student work; one-on-one conferences with students; small-group instruction with students working on similar goals and next steps; peer feedback focused on rubrics and checklists; and personal goal-setting related to our rubrics and progressions. Students are expected to be active learners in these feedback scenarios so as to make meaningful progress in their learning.
- Students have at least three Checkpoint Assessments for each learning outcome in a unit of study. Some Checkpoints are formative—some (not all) of the expectations of a learning outcome are assessed; and some Checkpoints are summative—all of the expectations of a learning outcome are assessed. Each semester, at least one of the checkpoints in each outcome will be Summative. Keeping up with daily homework and classwork helps students progress, and it informs teachers so that they can provide feedback that helps students improve.
What does “M” in JumpRope mean and what are SOF’s “late work” policies?
- M (Missing) will be averaged in the gradebook as a 0.5 when students have not submitted assessments because they were absent or did not complete them.
- M (Missing) is temporarily entered to alert students and families that there is a missing assessment. Students then have two weeks to complete that work at which time, if it is not completed, the 0.5 will lock in the gradebook, and students will focus on new work. Students may have extended deadlines if specified in IEP or 504 mandates.
- If a student needs more time on an assessment, they should communicate with their teacher at least 24 hours before the deadline; the teacher will decide arrangements on a case-by-case basis.
- A student cannot make up daily work unless a teacher instructs them to do so for their learning goals.
Can students retake assessments/redo assignments?
- Rather than making up missing work or redoing work that does not demonstrate competency, students should direct their efforts toward the next Checkpoint where they can marshall feedback and improve their skills to demonstrate competency.
- Some teachers may allow students to retake or redo assignments depending on their individual grading policies.
Individualized Education Plans and 504s: Student IEP goals and psychoeducational needs will be adhered to, and appropriate accommodations will be in place to support mastery of skills.
A core element of competency-based grading is rubrics that lay out expectations of competency, rather than traditional points. Competency scores capture a wider range of performance than the 0-100 scale. This grading system is an adjustment from a competitive oriented system to a learning oriented system.
How are grades calculated from Learning Outcomes?
Grades are entered in JumpRope on the 0.5-4 scale. The JumpRope system calculates course grades using its Decaying Average formula.
First, teachers assign weights to the Learning Outcomes of the course, that is, they designate for each outcome its percentage of the class’s overall score (e.g., Work Habits/Independent Practice counts for 10% of the grade in High School).
Then, each Learning Outcome is scored using JumpRope’s Decaying Average calculation, by which more recent grades under the same Outcome account for a greater percentage of the total score than earlier grades. The weight of each individual score is decayed based on how far back in time it is. The more scores in an outcome, the less each older one weighs in the overall standard score. This approach recognizes that students do better over time precisely because they make mistakes when they first start learning a topic or subject. More weight is placed on where they wind up than on where they started.
What are the specifics and timelines for progress reports and family conferences?
- Official progress reports are provided to families four times a year: November (progress report), February (semester grades), April (progress report), and June (semester and final grades). Middle School final grades are annualized and are an average of a student’s first and second semester grades. High school final grades and credits are awarded each semester, that is, in February and June.
- SOF holds conferences in November and April to discuss student progress reports with students and their families.
- Student transcripts reflect grades out of 100 for the purpose of reporting to colleges. Grades below 65 are failing. There are no grades given below a 55.
- Families may receive an “At Academic Risk” notification with the November, February, or April progress report if their student is failing (below 65) or in danger of failing (65-72). It is an outreach to families to collaborate with us on a support plan for their student.
How does the 1-4 scale translate to percentages for final grades and transcripts?
Conversion Scale for Overall Course Scores for Transcripts
Updated, September 2023