One of the most prominent topics of discourse in education on the national stage is also one of the most controversial: effective grading practices. In the spring of 2012, Des Moines Public Schools identified the development and utilization of district-wide effective grading practices as the next step for implementation for the Common Core Standards.
Original District Task Force
A 25-person Grading and Reporting Task Force was organized in August 2012 for the purpose of developing district-wide guidelines and practices that would ensure effective and consistent implementation of both the grading and the reporting of students’ learning. The team consisted of teachers, administrators, and support personnel from across the district’s secondary schools.
The initial question posed by the task force was “How confident are we that the grades assigned to middle school and high school students are consistent, accurate, meaningful, and supportive of learning?” * The responses to this question varied widely and in so doing reinforced the district’s earlier position that implementation of effective grading practices is the next critical phase in Des Moines Public Schools’ mission to ensure that all students possess the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities to be successful at the next stage of their lives.
To this end, the task force worked collaboratively to develop common Guiding Practices which will support teachers and administrators in decision making as the district moves with focused intentionality towards truly effective grading practices.
* O'Connor, K. (2011). A repair kit for grading: 15 fixes for broken grades. Boston: Pearson International, Inc.
Original Task Force Members
Noelle Tichy – Teaching & Learning
Kim O’Donnell - Science
Christi Donald - Mathematics
Mike Sherman - Assessment
Mindy Euken – Roosevelt (World Lang)
BJ VanVleet – Hoover (History)
Cheryl Bjurstrom – North (Math)
Pamela Harshbarger – East (English)
Sara Curto – East (SIL)
Doug Wheeler – Hoover (Principal)
Crista Carlile – Central (Supervisor)
Mike Vukovich- North (Principal)
Audrey Rieken – Weeks (Principal)
Chris Reeves – Weeks (SIL)
Cheryl Modlin – Callanan (SIL)
David Johns – Meredith (SIL)
Jake Troja – Harding (VP)
Patty Gronewold – Hiatt (Math/DMEA)
Josh Brown – Goodrell (Soc St/DMEA)
Mike Pentek – Harding (Lang Arts)
Vinh Nguyen - ELL
Ann Mincks - ELL
Susan Hope – SPED
Casey Dunley - TAG
The original district task force was made up of middle school and high school educators and leaders because typically the stakes are higher in those grade levels. Yet we knew we wanted our standards-based learning and grading efforts to be by K-12 implementation, so inclusion of elementary was key. As seen by the timeline above, we methodically began leading learning over SRG practices for elementary teachers within the bigger timeline.
Task Force 2
In Semester 2 of the 2017-18 school year, Task Force 2 was convened, consisting of secondary educators. Some grading practices in the SRG Teacher Handbook needed to be revisited based on district-wide feedback. The purpose of this work was to ensure effective and consistent implementation of both the grading and the reporting of students' learning. Task Force 2, like the original Task Force, worked collaboratively to clarify, modify, and tighten grading practices which support teachers and administrators in instructional decision making and effective and fair learning for all students.
Task Force 2 will continue its work into 2018-19 and beyond as steady feedback is gathered and work is done to make SRG implementation effective and consistent.
Task Force 2 Members
Ana-Cara Van Dyke
Teaching & Learning