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No more late homework? New SDUSD Standards-Based Grading

Updated: Dec 9, 2021

by Max Allen

Although new policies officially go into effect and into Powerschool for the 2022-2023 school year, the San Diego Unified School District has encouraged educators to focus on two main changes during the current school year- “Removing nonacademic factors from the academic grade and providing opportunities for revision and reassessment.” Some teachers here at Point Loma High School have already made these changes to their grading. Teachers including Mr. Richard, who teaches AP European History and AP U.S. History, Ms. Gonzalez, an Advanced Integrated Math 2 and Pre-Calculus teacher, and Mr. Oskin, a 10th grade English and Honors English teacher, have varied opinions on the policy.

As stated by the district, “One of the biggest shifts… is the removal of non-academic factors from the academic grade and the inclusion of those factors inside of the citizenship grade.” Non-academic factors include general behavior, punctuality, effort, and work habits. The most notable change of Standards-Based Grading is arguably teachers removing homework deadlines, allowing more time to turn work in without deducting any points. This, however, doesn’t mean students can turn in homework whenever they want.

Mr. Richard sees the removal of homework deadlines as an issue. “These new policies are not reality, not helping kids with the future. Jobs have deadlines.”

Ms. Gonzalez has also noticed her students’ misunderstanding Standards-Based Grading and disregarding assignments. Though turning in homework late is considered part of the punctuality factor, and according to new policy will not be part of academic grade, it still can and will affect citizenship. This in turn affects sports, dances, and privileges here at Point Loma High School. Teachers will continue to have deadlines for assignments and homework.

The second change, providing opportunities for revision and reassessment, could manifest itself in more test retakes or additional ways teachers are assessing beyond just homework and tests. The goal is to “allow students to relearn content or material that they may not have fully understood the first time it was taught.”

However, Ms. Gonzalez, who has been experimenting with test retakes, is “not thrilled” with this aspect of the change. “Students aren’t preparing for tests because they anticipate the re-take.”

However, just as with homework, this does not mean unlimited retakes or a retake at any point in time. “Educators will… (determine) the type and frequency of revisions and reassessments based on their content area.” As academic grades are now meant to show the amount of progress towards mastery of a subject, knowledge can also be shown to teachers with reflection.

Mr. Oskin has implemented this for his Honors English class and supports changes so far saying, “Standards-based grading is meant to show if you have mastered a skill. I hope this will more clearly show what students have learned.”

Next year more permanent and consistent changes should appear. Additionally, there are even more shifts in grading that relate to “new academic definitions, citizenship marks, and grading comments,” and the new citizenship letters, E, M, I, and U are currently being used.

While Mr. Oskin feels that there have been “plenty of opportunities and resources from the district” that have helped him make these changes, comments made by Mr. Richard and Ms. Gonzalez respectively were; “We need to try to get back to normal” and think that “too many changes [are] happening at once, especially after a year on Zoom.” They both feel these changes are not helping students adjust to the in-person school year.

The Standards-Based Grading policy, as well as the new citizenship rubric, is outlined on the SDUSD website and the direct source of all information can be found here.


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