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The Compass

Ratings don't last.  Great journalism does. - Dan Rather

The Compass

Ratings don't last.  Great journalism does. - Dan Rather

The Compass

NCSD Students Adjust To Proficiency Based Grading

Ayaan Yusuf
Clackamas High School

Education officials in the state of Oregon are starting to look back at another method of grading besides the standard ABC grading system that most students are familiar with. This new method known as equitable grading, minimizes traditional grading measures like attendance, extra credit, and completing assignments on time, and instead prioritizes students taking control of their growth within the classroom and in their learning. 

For the 2023-2024 school year, certain teachers at Clackamas High School let their students know on the syllabus that they will be using equitable grading. However, the sudden change receives mixed emotions and thoughts from students of all grades here at Clackamas High. A few students who are used to receiving letter grades believe that the proficiency scale is either too broad or too complex, especially for students who have immigrant parents whose first language isn’t English. They suspect the language barrier may confuse parents on what each proficiency score means, and in some cases, students may lie about their grade equaling an A or B. “I prefer the ABC grading system because it’s more specific and gives more information than the 1-4 system. For example, an A would be 100%-90%, a B is 89%-70%, and so on. It also gives me a basis to refer to,” replied Lucas Dela Fuente, an eleventh-grader attending Clackamas High School. Several other students appreciate equitable learning and grading because they believe it gives them a stronger grasp of what their teacher expects from them, while also letting them focus on their personal growth within the classroom. When asked whether she prefers this method, Lisa Vu who is also an eleventh grader here at Clackamas High School states, “I personally do prefer this method of grading only because when they come out with rubrics I am able to understand more of what they are looking for while also keeping my grade up.” 

For several Oregon schools, proficiency-based grading is their goal to bring back the motivation that some students lost during the pandemic. Since quarantine brought an all-time high of failure rates in Oregon. Furthermore, a lot of students noticed that their grades were getting better after the pandemic due to fewer distractions, having a person of authority supervising, and the administrators blocking access to certain sites. “I think my grades are better after the pandemic! Because they more accurately represent my intelligence, cause you know, everyone practically cheats during COVID,” says Vu. Teachers are known for giving students reminders of what and when assignments are due. Although, during the pandemic, students had to do their learning online and would instead receive reminders online as well, if they didn’t look at these reminders they could potentially pile up. Lucas Dela Fuente thinks back to his time of online learning and says, “My grades are definitely better after the pandemic since I have fewer distractions at school, unlike the many distractions I have at home. I almost failed all my classes once because I had over 100 missing assignments.”

Equitable grading is a 1-4 scale, where 4 equates to highly proficient, 3 is proficient, 2 is approaching proficient, and 1 is developing towards proficiency. Teachers who use this method say that grading students’ proficiency also grades students on their academic growth instead of grading them on behavior and attendance. Teachers with students who have learning disabilities and language barriers say that the switch has

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helped them understand the classroom material and uplift their attitude towards learning. Despite this, it continues to face resistance from students who believe that this change is unnecessary as they feel as though they are already too familiar with the original grading system.

So how will they and numerous other students adapt to equitable learning? Teachers mention that there are detailed rubrics given to students so that they know how to achieve the highest or lowest grade on that particular assignment. “I think my teacher uses this system instead because it’s easier to categorize while also giving us a better idea of what they are looking for.” Lisa Vu continues to talk about how she also believes that teachers can get a sense of where students are struggling and growing in whichever subject they are learning. Teachers say that they are able to keep track of 

different students’ learning progress and which areas they need growth. “I think he uses this grading system over the regular ABC system as it’s simpler to understand and easier to put into the grade book,” replies Dela Fuente as he wonders if his other teachers will also take the path of equitable learning.

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