Athlos Academy St. Cloud

Grading Practices at Athlos

At Athlos Academy, we understand that it is impossible to report all aspects of a student’s growth and achievement with just one document. Therefore, we use multiple avenues to track and share student progress. These include:

  • Regular communication between the school and families (ongoing)
  • Standards-based report cards (quarterly)
  • Student-led conferences (twice a year)
  • Student portfolios (ongoing, presented at student-led conferences)
 
While grading and reporting practices at Athlos may take a little time to get used to, we feel strongly that our system is set up to best support students as they become leaders of their own learning. Please contact your child’s teacher if you have further questions on any of these practices.

 

How to communicate with your child’s teacher:

Every Athlos student brings home a Friday folder that contains work and communication from the teachers. Take some time to discuss these materials with your child and ask him/her about what’s being learned in school.

Teacher email addresses are listed on the Athlos St. Cloud website: www.AthlosStCloud.org. Feel free to connect with your child’s teacher if you have questions or concerns. Alternatively, you can call the school at 320-281-4430 to schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher.

 

Standards-based report cards:

Report cards will be sent home in Friday folders four times per year, approximately two weeks after the end of each quarter. When you receive your child’s report card, you will notice that it is set up differently than a more traditional report card. This is because Athlos Academy uses a standards-based grading approach to tracking student progress.

Standards-based grading is different from traditional grading in that we measure a student’s mastery of grade-level standards by prioritizing the most recent, consistent level of performance (see the attached four-point grading scale). Thus, a student who struggled at the beginning of a course when first encountering new material may still earn a grade reflecting proficiency at the end of a grading period. This is different from a traditional grading system in which a student’s performance for an entire quarter is averaged together, meaning early quiz scores that were low are averaged together with more proficient performance later in the course, resulting in a lower overall grade than current performance indicates. A standards-based report card provides more meaningful feedback (with a focus on growth) so families can track progress and students can set goals for improvement.

Another characteristic of standards-based grading is the separation of academic performance from work habits and behavior in order to provide parents a more accurate view of a student’s progress. Variables such as effort, participation, time on task, cooperation, and attitude are reported separately as characteristics of successful learners. At Athlos there are three categories for Characteristics of Successful Learners, all connected to our 12 Performance Character traits:
  • Preparation and organization
  • Collaboration, participation and engagement
  • Care and community
 
 

Grading of student work:

You will notice a difference in the way student assignments are graded. Practice assignments (homework and classwork) are just that, practice. Teachers may “grade” them in order to offer feedback, plan instructional support, and track work habits, but scores on practice assignments are not calculated into a final grade.

Graded final assessments (e.g. end-of-unit tests, quizzes, or projects) are only given after students have had plenty of time to learn and practice concepts. These final assessments are viewed as celebrations of learning in which students can show off what they know and can do. You may already have noticed that these final assessments are also graded a little differently.

First of all, a final assessment is typically checking what a student knows and can do on multiple standards, so each test or project will usually receive more than one grade. Take a science test for example. One question might ask the student to explain a science concept using a well-constructed written response. The student can receive one grade for content knowledge and one for writing in science (two separate standards) on the same task.

The second main difference between Athlos grading practices and traditional schools is the grading scale. Student achievement is measured on a four-point scale (see attached document). This scale represents a different yet powerful way of looking at student work and therefore cannot be converted into the more familiar letter or percentage grades. Take some time to read through the descriptions at each level, noticing how the language used can help encourage students as they work towards mastery of grade-level standards.

  

Student-led conferences:

At Athlos Academy, student-led conferences take the place of traditional parent-teacher conferences. Through the process of planning for and leading their own conferences, students are empowered to honestly reflect on their learning, take ownership of their successes and challenges, and set specific goals for the future. Student-led conferences will occur twice a year, once in the fall and once in the spring.

  

Student portfolios:

The Athlos student portfolio system offers students a formal way to showcase their work. Portfolios have sections for each Athlos pillar (Prepared Mind, Healthy Body, and Performance Character) and display evidence of students meeting standards. The portfolios also offer an opportunity to highlight growth and development and will be used during the student-led conferences.