Grading Updates for School Leaders and Admins

Grading for the 2019-20 School Year

There are several exciting updates to grading and grade calculations in the Summit Learning platform for the 2019-20 school year. These include the ability to configure grade weighting by course, simplified calculation for Cognitive Skills scores, and an updated assessment framework for mathematics courses.

Show me how grades are calculated.

It’s easier than ever to explain grading to families

As many of you know, the Summit Learning grading philosophy emphasizes the importance of building cognitive skills. That’s because intensive research tells us strong cognitive skills are proven to boost a student’s academic and career success.

In line with this philosophy, new flexible grading configuration gives schools the opportunity to add an increased emphasis on cognitive skill development. More broadly, this flexibility empowers schools to create and set their own grading policies within a guiding philosophy. This will allow for a better understanding of how grading works and how to explain it to families.

Here’s a quick visual reference of how grades are determined:  

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Breaking down the grading system

Great news! Your school can determine how Cognitive Skills scores and Focus Area progress determine student grades for every course.

Cognitive Skill scores can make up 70% to 100% of course grades. Before, all courses were required to follow a 70:30 ratio of Cognitive Skill scores to Focus Area progress. That means every school can customize grading for individual courses.

In the Summit Learning Platform, your site leader can assign the role of Grade System Manager (GSM) to the appropriate person(s). The GSM sets the grading system for each course at your school.

  • For non-math courses:
    After the GSM sets the weight of Cognitive Skills scores between 70% and 100% of the grade, they can choose whether or not Additional Focus Areas contribute toward a grade. Then, they set the weight of both Power and Additional Focus Areas.
    • Alternatively, the GSM can choose the default settings for Science, History, and English:
      • 80% Cognitive Skills scores
      • 14% Power Focus Area progress
      • 6% Additional Focus Area progress.
    • For courses without Additional Focus Areas, the default weighting is 80:20, with 20% toward Power Focus Areas.
  • For math courses:
    Math course grades are divided into three sections: 70% Unit Assessment scores, 20% Focus Area progress, and 10% Portfolio Problem scores. The GSM sets the weights of these components within certain ranges.

Need help creating a grading system for your school?

Use this resource guide and check out this Help Center article.


More Grading Updates for 2019-20:

The overall score of Cognitive Skills

The Cognitive Skills portion of the grade is the average of the highest score per skill (no longer the weighted average of the highest score per skill).

Taking the highest score earned per skill — rather than the total average of all scores — aligns with our core value of honoring learning and growth. It also aligns with an instructional model that’s dependent on feedback and personal relationships.


Communicating Accurately and Precisely

One of the new Cognitive Skills is Communicating Accurately and Precisely. This skill is assessed on a 5-point proficiency rubric rather than the 9-point developmental rubric. In the Platform, teachers and students will see a percent score (i.e.: 100%, 85%, 70%, etc.) that corresponds to each rubric level (per grade level). Just like all other Cognitive Skills, the highest score for this skill is averaged with the other high scores per skill to calculate the overall Cognitive Skills score.  

Cognitive Skills Rubric Score: Percent Mapping

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There’s an update to scoring for Additional Focus Areas (AFAs)

There is a slight change to when and how Additional Focus Areas (AFAs) contribute to a student’s grade. Before, students would see a slight increase in their overall grade at the beginning of the year for AFAs and a slight drop in their overall grade at the end of the year for AFAs not completed.

Starting in the 2019-20 school year, this will no longer be the case. As students complete AFAs, they’ll incrementally earn the portion of the grade that each AFA contributes to.

  • Here’s an example:
    If a course has 100 days and 10 AFAs (1 due every 10 days), in days 0-9 there will be one AFA expected to be completed. The old method would have expected zero AFAs to be completed during days 0-9; the new method would expect one AFA to be completed during that time.

Here’s what you need to know about grading for Math courses

Math End-Of-Unit Assessments have new formats and a new scoring process. Math courses also have a new assessment type called Portfolio Problems. The end-of-unit assessment formats include Learnosity-based assessments, Learnosity based assessments with some paper based items, and paper based assessments. It is important to note that whichever format a student uses, the focus of the assessment should be on the understanding that the student demonstrates through their process. The assessments are scored for a total percent score, and each assessment is tagged to a Math Concept. The overall percent score is then translated to a proficiency level for the math concept assessed.

Portfolio Problems are puzzling, complex, often application-based problems that accompany each Math Unit. They are scored on a 2-point rubric that measures a student’s ability to extend their understanding in order to apply and connect mathematical concepts in problem-based settings. Portfolio Problems are scored on a 0-2 scale with half-point increments possible. The default setting is that Portfolio Problems are worth 10% of the math grade (they can be set to either 0% or 10%). To calculate this portion of the math course grade, the two lowest scores are removed and the remaining scores are averaged. In cases where a student understandably did not complete a Portfolio Problem within a unit, the teacher can mark this student as “Exempt” from receiving a Portfolio Problem score in that unit. Portfolio Problems will not be available in Math 4 or Math 5, but will be available in all other Base Curriculum math courses.

Tell me more about how math scoring works.


“Off track” instead of “incomplete”

In the past, students received an “Incomplete” in the Platform toward their course grade for one of three reasons:

  • Their Cognitive Skills or Math Concept score was below 70%
  • They were “off track” in Power Focus Areas (their current pace of passing PFAs would not lead to passing all PFAs in the course)
  • They had an overdue project or math unit

There are no changes to what causes an “Incomplete,” but for 2019-20, the word “Incomplete” has been replaced by the term “Off track.”

  • This gives students a better understanding of what they should be focusing on to improve their course grade. When the grading period ends, he Platform will show an “Incomplete” as the final grade if the student is off track for any of the reasons bulleted above.

Assigning the Grade System Manager (GSM) Role

School leaders will assign specific school personnel to the role(s) of “Grade System Manager” (school leaders may decide to assign multiple grade system managers to a given school; in some cases, the school leaders may even assign themselves as grade system managers). Grade system managers will work with their school’s leaders, teachers, and Summit Learning mentor in order to determine appropriate course grade configurations. School leaders can start assigning this role through the platform’s set-up page starting May 1, 2019. Grade system manager(s) can begin setting course grade configurations starting June 10, 2019. The configuration window will close 5 days after your school’s first day of the new academic year.

Deep Dive on Grading: Context, Values, and Principles

Students receive scores on their work. These scores reflect performance against a set of criteria, such as a rubric, or a percent score on an assessment. Grades are the summative measure of scores from a variety of inputs.

We acknowledge that schools and districts often need to ensure their grading policies are aligned to district and state policies. Given these realities and the multiple ways a grading policy can be aligned to the values of Summit Learning, we have established a grading philosophy instead of a policy. This document is designed to communicate values and principles important for policymakers to consider when establishing a policy and to walk partners through the decisions they need to make to set the Summit Learning Platform up for local policies.

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