The Superior School District is preparing to shift to standards-based grading at the middle and high schools for the 2021-22 year.

The School Board discussed the move, and a proposed change to the district’s grading policy, during its Monday, May 3, Committee of the Whole meeting.

Standards-based grading focuses on a student’s understanding of a subject instead of encouraging them to strive for the largest number of points to get an “A," Director of Curriculum and Instruction Crystal Hintzman told the board. The system replaces letter grades with numbers between 0 and 4, indicating how proficient a student is in each subject.

Students track their growth based on academic standards, which makes grading practices more equitable, Hintzman said. Standards-based grading has been in place at Superior’s elementary schools since 2011; this would expand it to the middle and high schools.

Forty teachers at SHS and SMS have been piloting standards-based grading this year, and changes have been made based on their experiences.

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As grades would be based strictly on a student’s mastery of academic content, a new Spartan Grade would be introduced that encompasses student behavior and adherence to the district’s “work, respect, belong” goals.

“Oftentimes, student behavior and academics get all mashed together in a grade,” Hintzman said.

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Adding the Spartan Grade allows those to be separated.

Many districts in the state have transitioned to standards-based grading, and Hitnzman said it’s being taught to new teachers as a best practice.

“As research changes in our field over time and practices in our field change over time, we need to consider what needs to get changed in our practices,” she said.

It’s also important to ensure those practices align with the district’s mission and vision, she said.

Board members were supportive of the change.

“This is a good thing and a good time to do this sort of thing,” said Board Member Laura Gapske, chair of the policies and rules committee.

If the policy passes at its second reading at the Regular Board Meeting on Monday, May 10, parents of middle and high school students can expect report cards to look different next year.

Report cards at Superior Middle School would give standards-based numerical grades only. Superior High School report cards would include both a standards-based grade and a letter grade. There would still be an honor roll and grade-point average would be tracked at the high school level.