Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Standards-based Grading and Reporting at the High School Level

Many schools across the country have been implementing standards-based grading and reporting within their schools for quite some time. In general, elementary schools have led the charge in this area. Currently at Ely Elementary, students in grades kindergarten through fourth grade have received a standards-based report card throughout their elementary experience. Next year, grade five and six will communicate progress through a standards-based report card. This has caused us to move the conversation on standards-based grading and reporting to the high school level. In many districts high schools have been slow to the process. This is largely due to concerns with college entrance and scholarships. College entrance and scholarships often require a class rank and an overall GPA to determine acceptance.

These are all valid concerns and something that we will have to work through as implementation continues over the next few years. I have spoken with the North Dakota University System in regard to transcripts that may not have traditional grades. Their response was that they receive transcripts from across the world and are able to identify those who will be successful. I believe the benefits of standards-based grading and reporting far outweigh these concerns. Based on the research and our experiences I created a list of benefits below:
  • Students are more aware of teacher expectations.
  • Learning is more visible to the student. 
  • The grade is more accurate when nonacademic factors like effort, attitude, participation, and class behavior are removed from the grade.
  • Identifies breakdowns in learning to guide interventions. 
  • Identifies areas to enrich for students that already know the material. 
  • Allows opportunities for student self-reflection on a set of criteria.
  • Identifies gaps between and across grade levels. 
  • Provides diagnostic information helpful for instruction and future training.
  • Develops consistency across grade levels, classrooms and schools.
  • It makes teacher collaboration more valuable for teachers.
Our Grading and Reporting Committee recently developed a timeline for preparation and implementation of standards-based grading and reporting in grades 7-12. The next five years will certainly be a learning experience for our school district. 

Here are several research articles that detail the benefits of standards-based grading and reporting at the high school level:
  • The Association Between Standards-Based Grading and Standardized Test Scores in a High School Reform Model (2015)
  • Making High School Grades Meaningful (2006)
  • The Minimum Grading Controversy: Results of a Quantitative Study of Seven Years of Grading Data From and Urban High School (2012)
  • 7th – 12th Grade ELA Teachers and Their Classroom Grading Practices: Investigating the Use of Standards-based Grading in Nebraska’s Rural Classrooms (2010)
  • Standards-based grading: Educators’ perceptions of the effects on teaching, student motivation, and assessment at the high school level (2016)
Dr. Matt Townsley has compiled a nice list of research articles that share the benefits of standards-based learning. The full list can be found here: Comprehensive List of Standards Based Grading Articles

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Personalized Learning for Teachers

This is my presentation for the upcoming AdvancED Conference on September 21st. It details our district's work to provide a better professional learning experience for our teachers. The presentation includes practical examples we have developed to create a more personalized and meaningful approach to professional learning.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

RHS failure rate continues to be reduced.

I shared these two charts with our staff today. Our failure rate has decreased over time. This has been a combination of a change in the schedule and our teacher collaboration efforts. I am proud of our results!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Welcome back!

We are off and running! I walked the halls of both schools this morning and it is always great to see and feel the excitement of a new school year. We have a new group of 7th graders at the high school and a new crew of kindergartners at the elementary. Not to mention a few new students and staff members. The challenge for all of us will be to bottle this excitement for the next 175 days. Let's have a great year and continue our very important work!

Monday, July 31, 2017

The school year is right around the corner.

Dear Parents,

The upcoming school year is approaching quickly and we are excited to get all staff and students back into the building! I have two data points and one update that I would like to share with you.

We are now in year five of our teacher collaboration initiative. For the past five years school has started late every Wednesday to allow time for teachers to collaborate. This time is used to unpack standards, develop our own assessments, data analysis, and to create action plans for students who are performing below or above the standard. We are happy to see that the fruits of our labor are beginning to pay off. In the chart below you can see the past two years we have seen an increase in our overall ACT Composite Score. All juniors are required to take the ACT in North Dakota during the spring semester.

The chart below shows the percentage of the senior class that has qualified for the North Dakota Academic and Career Tech Scholarship. To qualify you need a minimum composite score of a 24 or three fives on the ACT WorkKeys Assessment. Students also need a high GPA and qualifying coursework.

As part of our teacher collaboration efforts we are continuing our gradual implementation of standards-based grading and reporting. You can expect that students in grades K-4 will receive a more detailed report card based on the standards in English and Language Arts. This method of reporting allows us to identify breakdowns in learning faster and provides more information to parents. We will continue implementation into future grades and subject areas in upcoming school years.

Please stop by the school to pick up your school registration packet. You will find information regarding our NEW school app. You can follow me on Twitter at @mdmcneff and visit my blog at http://mikemcneff.blogspot.com/ for current school related articles or news.

I am looking forward to an excellent year!


Dr. Michael McNeff, Superintendent

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Study Abroad Program heading to Italy.

In the summer of 2015, I was lucky enough to take part in the first study abroad trip to the country of Peru. We took approximately 30 high school juniors and seniors on the Peru trip. We were able to take in all of the fantastic sights throughout our stay in Peru. Mr. Blikre and I may or may not have gotten lost... :) It was a wonderful experience for myself and the students that were able to attend. It is something that I will never forget. Fast forward to 2017, our next group to travel abroad has spent the last two years preparing for their trip to Italy. I have no doubt that our students and advisers will have another successful learning experience overseas.

If you would like you can follow their experiences here beginning on July 31st.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Download the NEW School App!

The Rugby Public Schools' mobile app is ready for launch!

The new RPS mobile app for both iPhone and Android smartphones is ready for launch! We are excited to bring this new technology to RPS and hope you will enjoy the convenience of it. Now you can stay connected while you’re on the go with this FREE mobile app! Our new mobile app will keep you better informed about the news and events in our district and schools and will help streamline communication with our stakeholders. The app will deliver real time school news to your smartphone for fast, up-to-date access, with convenient links to other school information.

With the app you can:
 • Have school information accessible in one location on your smartphone
• Select the schools you want to follow
• Get push notifications about news, closures, weather, events, and more
• Quickly access the school calendar, lunch menus, school supply lists, etc.
• Tap to see administrator and staff contact information

 Download the new app in 3 easy steps:
1. On your smartphone, go to the iTunes App Store® or Google Play®
2. Search Rugby Public Schools. Look for our panther logo.  
3. Then select our Rugby Public Schools app.  Please click to "allow push notifications."