We are a school that believes in mastery-based grading!
A growing number of schools across the city use mastery-based grading. The policy was recently featured in a New York Times article: A New Kind of Classroom: No Grades, No Failing, No Hurry. It is an approach to grading that recognizes growth and learning over completion.
UAGC’s Grading Policy
The UAGC Grading Policy is designed to reflect our core values of intention, collaboration, and responsibility and to support the implementation of Learning Cultures.
Traditionally, grades are given based on completion of assignments, but not at UAGC. Instead of assignments, specific outcomes have been identified for each course. Over the course of the school year, students work to demonstrate mastery of each of the course outcomes in a variety of assessment genres.
Students must identify their individual strengths and challenges, then develop an intention to master specific outcomes over time and decide how best to demonstrate those outcomes with the assistance of their teachers and peers.
Instead of working on assignments in isolation, teacher-student feedback and student-student feedback is central to developing mastery. Using the language of the outcomes, feedback is specific and actionable.
As students develop competencies around specific outcomes, they become resources, developing depth of knowledge by providing expert feedback to peers.
Mastery-based grading is transparent, allowing students to take responsibility for the outcomes and assessments they are working to master. At UAGC students are in control of their learning, guided and supported by their teachers and the resources of their environment.
How Courses Are Graded
When a student submits an assignment he or she receives feedback on a set of outcomes. A student progress on an outcome can be either “Not Yet,” meaning they must revise their work; “Approaching,” which has a grade equivalent of a 70; “Proficient,” which has a grade equivalent of an 85; or “Exemplary,” which has a grade equivalent of a 100.
These outcomes are assessed multiple times during each marking period. When a student has received feedback for an outcome 3 times a summary* evaluation is calculated for the outcome. More recent assessments count more to encourage growth.
Student will receive marking period grades six times during the academic year. Please check the school’s calendar to see when each marking period ends.
Student efforts are graded using rubrics that measure content-specific skills called “outcomes”
A sample student’s period-by-period attendance, tracked in JumpRope, shared with students and parents/ guardians:
a sample student’s mastery report (academic progress):
The corresponding course rubric that is used to evaluate a student’s performance (see sample Mastery Report above):
What do we believe?
At UAGC we believe that students should be given every opportunity to demonstrate mastery. However, students must also learn time management. As such, work submitted after a marking period has ended cannot receive a mark higher than Proficient. For most assessments there is no limit on the number of times a student may revise work to improve it in response to feedback and to improve their marks on the assessment. Teachers may, at their discretion, determine that certain assessments cannot be revised, although this should be avoided whenever possible.
Courses that end in a Regents exam will not have the score for that exam factored into the grade for the class.
DRP, MAP, and mid-term exam grades count in the grading of the class as a demonstration of mastery
All courses are year-long (annualized) with the exclusion of PE
A student’s grade is cumulative through the year
Students who fail more than x consecutive marking periods
x=1: Double conferences
x=2: Meeting with teacher to create action plan
x=3: Parent meeting
Scale of Marks Awarded:
All marks will be entered as a letter grade into STARS and the final grade will appear on the student transcript. Jumprope will calculate a numeric grade; teachers will convert this to a letter grade on the following scale:
A student’s Grade Point Average (GPA) will be computed as a simple average of all classes.
NU: UAGC will allow students to continue study past the end of the current term if they have not yet mastered the required content. This is referred to as a course extension. Course extensions must align with the policies for credit recovery and make-up courses. When implementing course extensions:
The teacher enters a non-numeric mark (‘NU’) in the current term. This mark will remain on the student’s transcript and will not be updated.
The school schedules the student for the same course in the next term (summer school) and provides the student with targeted instruction in the area(s) he or she has not yet mastered.
The school enters a new grade or a special mark for the term, either when standards have been mastered or at the end of the term (summer school). The student’s original non-numeric mark from the previous term does not change.
The final grade should be entered into the term in which the student masters the course content. This final grade must have a pass/fail equivalent.
NX: A teacher may award a grade of ‘NX’ if a student has a documented, extreme extenuating circumstance that prevents him or her from completing the course in its established timeframe (e.g., surgery, death in the family). Students who receive a grade of ‘NX’ must successfully complete remaining course requirements by the end of the next semester (summer school).
NL: A teacher may award an ‘NL’ to a student who enrolled in a course after it started and who may have missed assignments or assessments needed to generate the grade. Students who receive a grade of ‘NL’ must successfully complete remaining course requirements by the end of the next semester (summer school).
NS: A grade of ‘NS’ - no show - is given to a student who fails to attend a course and does not participate in any of the work from which a grade can be derived. ‘NS’ has a pass/fail equivalent of fail and a default numeric equivalent of 45. This mark should be used in egregious situations, when students have been given reasonable chances to make up missed work and their absences are so chronic that only a failing mark is appropriate. Students who are on home and hospital instruction should not receive ‘NS’ marks.
When Grades Are Awarded
Backpacked report card
The grading policy here outlined applies to all students at The Urban Assembly School for Green Careers.
Parents have access to the online grading portal and may discuss a particular grade:
By reaching out to the teacher via the online portal (Jumprope) or email
During scheduled Parent Teacher Conferences
By scheduling a time via email with the teacher or via phone through the parent coordinator. Specific times have been made available in the schedule for these meetings:
Monday from 3:00-3:30
Thursday from 3:00-3:30
The grading policy will be reviewed annually in June.
Academic dishonesty, including cheating and plagiarism, is taken seriously at UAGC. For the first occurrence of academic dishonesty the student is to receive no credit, but should be given an opportunity to make up the assessment. If a student commits a second offence, that student should receive no credit and the issue should be immediately referred to the principal.
Promotion decisions are made based on the Academic Policy Handbook credit accrual requirements.
This grading policy is posted on the website and will be shared with families during the Spring new student orientation and the Fall curriculum night.
Translated copies of the grading policy will be available online and shared in home languages.
Individual grading policies (e.g. rubrics, curriculum materials, department initiatives) will be shared in department team meetings; any revisions to individual or department-wide policies will go into effect at the commencement of a new marking period.
Digital copies of old grading policies will be stored in Google Drive; digital copies of teacher’s gradebooks will be backed up to Google Drive semi-annually as well as stored in the online grading system.