STEM School Highlands Ranch is a standards based learning school. Standards based learning (SBL) is a way for students to demonstrate mastery of standards, and a way for teachers to determine which standards students still need help to understand. It is a way for parents to determine what their student knows and might be struggling with.

How will grades be calculated?

At the end of last school year our grading committee, made up of teachers, instructional coaches, administration, and our consultant, met to discuss the things that went well with SBL last year and the things that we wanted to change for this year. Throughout the summer, our team met to determine what changes we would need to make to our grading system in order to provide the best educational experience for our students. During these meetings the team made the following recommendations:

  • This school year we will average our grades for middle school and high school.
  • Grades will still be grouped into standard categories as they were last year
    • Ex. Social Studies categories are History, Geography, Civics, and Economics
  • In middle school, students will receive a grade for each category. This is the same as last year. The difference is that this year we will be using a letter grade instead of a number.
  • In high school, students will receive one final letter grade for the course. The standard categories will be averaged together to get the final grade for the course.

What will the gradebook look like?

We will be using MasteryConnect as our gradebook. We will have a few parent sessions the first few weeks of September to show parents how to interpret MasteryConnect. We received positive feedback from our parents who piloted the program last year.

Letter Grade vs. Number grades

We will still use a 4,3,2,1 system in our gradebook. This corresponds with the proficiency scales that will be attached to units/assignments in canvas. This provides our students with feedback on what level of proficiency they have achieved on that Demonstration of Knowledge assignment.

For the final grade, we will report a letter grade since we will be averaging. Below is the chart that shows the grading breakdown.

  • A= 4.0-3.25
  • B= 3.24- 2.50
  • C= 2.49-2.0
  • D= 1.99-1.5
  • F= 1.49-0

It is important to note that MasteryConnect will average each standard category, not the overall average. For high school, students will need to average the 3 to 4 categories together to get their final grade. Additionally, each standard category will show up as follows:

  • Blue- exceeds mastery – Level 4
  • Green- Mastery- level 3
  • Yellow- Near Mastery- level 2
  • Red- Remediation- Level 1

If a student has anything red or yellow, this is an indicator that they need to attend Access or office hours with that teacher to complete or resubmit a Demonstration of Knowledge assignment.

Teachers will be working with students to understand our MasteryConnect program. Additionally we will have assemblies and Access periods where we will discuss grading and MasteryConnect with students.

Why did the grading scale shift?

We analyzed our student and parent feedback and noticed that without a delineation between a 3 and 4 for an A, that we were not holding our students to high standards. This feedback led us to make this shift for our students.

What if my student does not score well on a Demonstration of Knowledge?

All students are strongly encouraged to use their Access period to meet with their teachers to receive support and to redo/resubmit assignments. Additionally teachers will provide students with office hours, once a week. It is important to note that most departments will have a two week grading window once a unit is completed for students to complete or resubmit work. Once that window is closed, students will not be able to submit their work for that unit. Please see the teacher’s syllabus for more information.

Will I receive support in understanding the grading system?

Yes. We will have quarterly Parent Nights where parents can ask questions about MasteryConnect and grading. Please understand we are continuously reviewing feedback and using that to improve our systems at STEM.