Nashua district enters world of competency-based grading
The school district is piloting the new competency-based grading system that will track academic progress and provide a detailed a picture of each student’s performance in each subject. Rather than just a single letter grade, students will receive multiple scores on their understanding of different aspects of a subject and their level of ability based on a system-wide set of expectations or standards.
Many students and parents have seen how different teachers who are offering the same course give different grades based on a variety of subjective factors. Students may be able to earn A’s without much trouble in one teacher’s classroom while students in another class may struggle for a B- in the same course.
Competency-based grading relies on a common set of four or five expectations, or competencies, for each course. For example, a competency in Algebra 1 might include the ability to demonstrate how to manipulate and solve equations using different techniques.
For each competency in each course, students will receive a score of 1 to 4 that reflects their level of proficiency. To earn credit for a course, students must score at least a 2 on all course competencies, which means they are partially proficient but still have an inconsistent understanding of the material and an uneven level of skill.
“One of the things we heard is that people still wanted a letter grade,” said Goldwith.
Several BOE members said they have been hearing concerns from parents about competency-based grading and what it will mean for their children.
“Telling students about a changed policy that doesn’t exist yet would create more angst,” said Goldwith, who added that students will be briefed “holistically,” hopefully with the help of a group of students who have been involved in developing the new system.
Kelly Holmes, head of the science department at Nashua High South, said students would receive a syllabus in each course that clearly defines the required competencies.
BOE member Dotty Oden asked about teachers who had classes with significant numbers of students who may require credit recovery plans under the new system.
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