Our Philosophy and How We Implement It
Shaw Middle School uses a traditional grading scale while still incorporating some of the ideas of a Standards Based Grading system. Our philosophy incorporates the ideas of Guskey, DuFour, Lezotte and the Effective Schools Movement. We are a work-in-progress and solve problems as they come up. It hasn’t been easy, but our students’ success is evidenced by their achievement on standardized testing.
In a nutshell our philosophy answers three questions:
What is it we want students to learn?
- What is it we want students to learn?
- What must they do to show us they learned it?
- What happens if they don’t learn it?
The State and District have adopted standards for each teaching discipline. Each department determines the essential standards (those that each student absolutely have to master) and in which quarter they will be taught. The quarterly standards are assessed so that parents can see how well their students have learned the standards.
What must they do to show us they learned it?
Each department develops common assessments, projects and rubrics based on the essential standards. Students know exactly what is expected of them to meet or exceed the standard. They are shown examples of excellent work and teachers’ lessons are designed to help students master each assessment.
Grading has been broken down into two components: product and process. Product is what the student actually knows or can do. The product (academic grade) is based on five or six meaningful Projects/Assessments in each quarter in each subject area. Although there are many formative assessments during the quarter, only the five or six summative assessments determine the majority of a student’s academic grade.The process grade is based on Practice/Classwork/Homework. We have limited homework at Shaw, with nighly assigned homework only occuring in our Advanced Math classes. We also assign 20 minutes of nightly reading and expect any classwork that was not completed to be finished at home. There are exceptions to this policy such as large projects, but those will be communicated to families ahead of time. Classworks makes up part of the overall academic grade . There is a very strong correlation between successfully completing classwork and mastering the essential standards.Student behavior is based on the Coyotes Code of Conduct matrix. Students know exactly what is expected of them: Be Safe, Be Respectful, and Be Responsible. This makes up their weekly Behavior grade.
What happens if they don’t learn it?
Our expectation is that all students will master the essential standards. Students that are not successful on assessments or projects are given multiple opportunities for success. Before they can retake a parallel exam or redo a project, they must meet with the teacher to identify the areas in which they need additional study and to demonstrate that they have completed all homework and classroom work. This has been particularly effective because students are not doomed to a low grade if they do poorly on an assessment or forget to turn in a homework assignment. Our system promotes hope rather than hopelessness.
Almost all of our special education students are in English and math inclusion classes. Inclusion classes have a regular education teacher and a special education teacher. The teachers have a common prep period, plan the lessons together and co-teach the lesson. Those special education students that need additional help are in a directed studies class each day. The special education teacher, because he or she is part of the regular education class, pre-teaches or re-teaches concepts during directed studies so the student is prepared to learn in the regular education class.