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Decatur School Board adopts formal grading policy 

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Decatur School Board adopts formal grading policy 

The Decatur School Board approved a grading policy during its regular meeting on Dec. 12, 2023. Photo by Zoe Seiler.

Decatur, GA — The Decatur School Board, at its Dec. 12 regular meeting, adopted a grading policy that outlines a four-point grading scale for kindergarten through fifth grade, and a 100-point scale for grades 6-12. 

The policy and grading scales will go into effect during the 2024-2025 school year. 

City Schools of Decatur had not previously had a formal grading policy. Grading has been quite the topic of discussion in the last couple of years as changes were discussed and made, creating some confusion among students, families and teachers. 

The grading policy also provides definitions for when to assign each grade for the four-point scale. The 100-point scale for middle and high school focuses on the mastery of state standards. 

To view the policy, click here.

Students in the International Baccalaureate program would also be evaluated based on the IB middle years program and the IB diploma program. Additionally, the policy outlines high school grade point averages and that bonus points will only be awarded for advanced coursework.

During the Sept. 12 school board meeting, Chief Performance Officer Karen Newton-Scott gave an overview of grading and shared the interim revisions that were made for the current semester. 

“Grading continues to be an opportunity for improvement in City Schools of Decatur,” she said. 

To view the presentation from the Sept. 12 meeting, click here. CSD also created a frequently asked questions document related to grading and assessments. To view the FAQ, click here

In 2009, elementary schools in Decatur shifted from a 100-point grading scale to standards-based grading. At that time, the four-point scale was implemented and standards-based report cards were developed, Newton-Scott said. 

In 2012, the middle and high schools changed to criterion-based grading, which was in line with the international baccalaureate programs. 

“Teachers at the middle and high school were directed to evaluate and report students’ performance based on IB criteria, rather than providing explicit reporting on students’ mastery of state standards,” Newton-Scott said. 

That grading method was outlined in CSD’s 2013 system charter contract renewal and was approved for the 10-year duration of the contract. 

In 2021, the district formed a grading task force that was charged with studying equitable grading practices and offering recommendations. Last year, CSD implemented some of the recommendations from the task force. Some of the recommendations from the task force were put in place for the 2022-2023 school year. Those recommendations were: 

– CSD should have a consistent grading system and platform across all grades that’s transparent and easy for students and parents to understand and access.

– CSD should no longer uses ManageBac for general grade recording and reporting. The district has shifted to using Infinite Campus.

– All grading should be related to mastery of content standards. 

– There needs to be clear policies and boundaries around make-ups and retakes for assignments and tests. 

Some changes were also made to how grade point averages are calculated, although this was not explicitly mentioned by the grading task force. 

“Previously, students were awarded up to a 4.25 for general coursework,” Newton-Scott said. “CSD cannot score higher than a 4.0 for general level coursework because the extra points should reflect that students have successfully completed advanced coursework.”

For advanced coursework like IB, advanced placement and dual enrollment courses, the GPA scale goes up to a 5.0. The school board also recently added honors courses, and the weighted GPA for those courses will go up to 4.5. 

“It’s crucial to note that these changes do not retroactively alter any previously established GPAs,” Newton-Scott said. “Any GPA earned by students at Decatur High School during the spring of last year will serve as their starting point for this school year.”

She added later during the Sept. 12 meeting that there’s more work to be done around grading. 

“The transition from ManageBac to Infinite Campus for [grades] 6-12 and the end of the 2013-2023 charter brought to light more change that is necessary to build a system that bases promotion and the awarding of course credits on the inclusion of concepts and skills of our state-adopted curriculum, which is a mandatory requirement for public schools in Georgia,” Newton-Scott said. 

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