Middle schools and high schools that are bridging the gap between competency-based grading (standard-based grading) and traditional letter grade reporting can have their cake and eat it too! Since many schools still report out letter grades for GPA and college entrance purposes, jmc gives teachers the ability to track progress on standards and provide the feedback that moves learning forward and converts all of that information to a letter grade without double entry or additional calculation!

Calculating letter grades from competency-based grading takes some basic setup. Let's break it into three simple parts:

  1. Defining your Proficiency Scale

  2. Adding an Assessment Area

  3. Adding a Formative Assessment

In jmc Teacher head to Competency-Based Grading > Define Formative Assessments to begin.

Defining your Proficiency Scale

A proficiency scale is made up of multiple assessment proficiencies, or results. Define your possible proficiencies to ensure a complete scale.

Step One: Select a course from the "Course" drop-down list to begin setting up results and adding assessments for a course.

Step Two: Select a number from the "Number of Results" drop-down list to begin creating the standard-based result definitions.

Fun Fact: The "Number of Results" refers to how many proficiencies are in your proficiency scale. For example, if your proficiency scale is "Meets", "Developing", "Beginning", and "Incomplete" you would select "4" in "Number of Results".

Helpful Tip: Include an extra result to include an "exempt" option on your proficiency scale to define a result that won't count in proficiency calculations.

Step Three: Click the "Edit" link in a proficiency row to begin defining a result in your proficiency scale.

Step Four: Select a color from the color drop-down list to correspond with your competency-based grading result.

Step Five: Enter an abbreviation (3 letters or fewer) in the "Name" column to create a display name for the result. For example "Met", "Dev", or "Beg" etc.

Step Six: Enter a number in the "Value" column to set a ranking order for your proficiency scale.

Step Seven: Enter a description for the result in the "Description" field to correspond with your competency-based result.

A few helpful tips:

  • Place a checkmark in the "Exempt" checkbox to create an option for an "Incomplete", "Insufficient Information", or "Not turned in" result to communicate the information to all stakeholders without being punitive.

  • Place a checkmark in the "Proficiency Target" checkbox to set the result as the proficiency target to use in conjunction with the "Proficiency Target #" calculation option.

Step Eight: Click the "Update" link to save the result or click the "Cancel" link to discard changes.

A few helpful tips:

  • Head to Scores > Grade Cutoffs and create grade cutoffs that correspond to your proficiency scale with a checkmark placed in the "Use Point Value Grade Scale" checkbox to bypass the use of percentages.

  • Utilize a standard-based grading letter grade conversion scale similar to Marzano (2010) "Standard to Letter Grade Conversion Scale" to enter grade cutoffs.

Adding an Assessment Area

An assessment area is the logic container for multiple formative assessments. Create an assessment area to tie them together.

Step One: Click the "Add" button next to the "Assessment Area" drop-down list to enter a new standard.

Step Two: Enter a standard name in the "Assessment Area Name" field to create a new assessment area to be assessed.

Step Three: Choose the "Calculated to an Assignment Score" radio button in the "Assessment Area Type" box to use the CBG module to calculate to a letter grade.

Fun Fact: The "Category Weight" is a ratio that weighs the Assessment Area against the other "Assessment Areas". If all "Category Weights" are set to the default 1.0 each Assessment Area will be weighted equally to one another when calculating a grade.

Step Four: Click the "Save" button to save the assessment area or click the "Close" button to discard changes.

Adding a Formative Assessment

A formative assessment is the learning target that contributes to the standard, or assessment area. Add multiple formative assessments (learning targets) for the assessment area (standard) to form a learning progression.

Step One: Click the "Add" button below the "Formative Assessment" box to add a formative assessment for the selected "Assessment Area".

Step Two: Enter a formative assessment name for the current assessment area in the "Formative Assessment" field to associate the assessment with a standard.

Step Three: Select a radio button next to the appropriate option in the "Calculate Options" box to set the calculation option that best fits your grading philosophy.

  • # of High Scores: This option will calculate the average of the highest x scores. For example, if you assess a learning target 5 times and you are taking the average of the highest 2 scores and the highest 2 scores are 3 and 4, the calculated student score would be 3.5. Want to take the highest score? Enter a "1" in the field and jmc will calculate the average of the highest "1" score.

  • Most Recent Scores: This option will calculate an average of the most recent x scores. Want to take the most recent score? Enter a "1" in the field and jmc will calculate the average of the most recent "1" score.

  • Decaying Average (%): This option will use a formula to apply more weight to recent performance while including results from first attempts in the average.

  • Proficiency Target #: Place a checkmark in the "proficiency target" checkbox in the results box and when a student reaches the proficiency target "x" number of times, jmc will calculate the final result to proficient.

Step Four: Select the number of times you are formatively assessing the learning target from the "Number of Assessments" drop-down list to create multiple assessment opportunities for your students.

Helpful Tip: Not sure how many times you are going to formatively assess a benchmark? No problem! Simply add to the "Number of Assessments" as needed!

Step Five: Click the "Save" button to add the formative assessment as a calculated benchmark result or the "Cancel" button when finished adding formative assessments.

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