Proficiency Based Grading Fits In at MHS


By Violet Tabacco and Lila Markow

Entering the 2016-17 school year, Montpelier High School took a new approach to learning with a brand new grading system.  Based on a one to four scale, the new system, known as Proficiency Based Grading, incorporates three different types of grades - the summative, formative, and preparedness grades. Summative grades are based off of one or two assignments at the end of a five week marking period that make up eighty percent of a student’s final grade. The idea is to give students sufficient time to become proficient in the subject being tested before they get their final assessment. During the marking period students will be given formative assessments on that marking period’s topic to practice for the summative. Formatives do not count toward a student’s final grade. The last type of grades are preparedness grades. They are grades based on assignment completion and engagement in class.

The Solon Spectrum wanted to know what students and teachers really thought about the new grading system. Freshman Mary Ann Songhurst told us about how the grading system helps her learning because she has multiple chances to understand and revise her work, resulting in a better a product. She also is in favor of getting a preparedness grade rather than a grade on the content.  Since students are getting graded on the quality and effort that they put into their homework assignments rather than how well they did on each problem, students are able to learn the topic and their grades won’t suffer if they take longer to grasp a new subject.

Next we talked to social studies teacher Heather McLane. She says how she now understands how incredible the retake week is and what a great opportunity it is for students to completely change their grade. On the other hand, it is hard for her to keep her units in each marking period, which isn’t something she had to worry about before. McLane states how beneficial the new grading system is for students who are not satisfied with their grades. Previously, students would be stuck with unwanted grades and no way to come back from them. Now, anyone has a real chance at totally improving their GPA with retakes.

At first, many didn’t understand this grading system. I know that I thought I would only get one chance to get a good grade for an entire marking period. Once we got moving more into the year I realized that there's more to it. We have a chance to redo any part or mistake we could've made during a stressful week of summative exams. There are also many formative exams for practice before our final tests. We learn something, we practice it, and we take a summative on it. It's as simple as that.