Ahh, the dreaded final grade. The moment when we need to pin a number to a student's head that will last forever. Though final grades in traditional systems are ages old, the marriage between true mastery-based grading and final grades is complex to say the least. Because of the complexity and importance, we believe that professional human eyes (yours!) should see each and every final grade before it is submitted. For this reason, we do not dump scores directly into HSST/STARS or other transcript systems. Believe me, I understand how convenient this would be... but the meaning of final grades is enough different from the mastery data that JumpRope is designed to collect that I believe our professional judgement must enter the process.
With this in mind, JumpRope does provide a number of tools to facilitate the "final grades" process. However, if you're here for a "quick" set of instructions, I'm afraid that you're in the wrong place. You see, each school that we work with (and even each teacher within each school) has a different approach to this process, so we offer quite a few options. Before you scream at me for making things too complicated, speak to the folks at your school - chances are, we've already had a conversation and made some decisions around the final grade conversion process that works best at your school (such decisions usually make the most sense when they are made school-wide). Here are some of the options:
- "In our final grades, do we include the character/HOW grades, or just academic scores?" (note: your school may use different "Standard Types," or even more than two types, but in this explanation I will use the common use case of having two types: Academic and Character). This is an important question: if your school has explicitly separated "character-based" learning targets (those related to behavior, completion, etc.) from academic targets (those based on state standards such as content and skill targets), it is important to consider how they will be weighed into a final grade. Here are your options, which can be set from the Grading section of the Settings Wizard in the Admin Console:
- You can treat everything according to the teacher-assigned assessment weights. In this option, no consideration is given to "Standard Type" (i.e. Academic vs. Character) at all, and all scores are treated the same. (note: this is mathematically quite different from saying that Academic is weighed 50% and Character is weighed 50%, as described in detail below. This option is found in the Standard Types section of the Admin Console's wizard. It can be set by selecting the "Don't consider standard type when calculating grades" option.)
- You can assign a relative weight to your Academic and Character grades. Using this option, an explicit relative weight can be given to each standard type. I'll try to explain this through common examples:
- Academic Scores are 100% of the final grade. Ahh, the Holy Grail of mastery-based grading: complete separation between academic and character data in student feedback, with a complete focus on academics for the "academic" final grades. Only a couple of our schools have opted for this option (which Expeditionary Learning touts in its literature), because it reduces the ability for a teacher to gain leverage over a student's work habits. In this scenario, ONLY academic scores will count in the student's overall average. Period. However, all scores will be printed in order to give a complete picture of feedback to students and parents (and so that the Character grade can be properly incentivized/rewarded). You can set this in the Admin Console by selecting "Give custom weight to standard types" and dragging the Academic slider all the way to the right (Value: 100).
- Academic is with 2/3, Character is worth 1/3. And here we have a common compromise: academics rule, but character matters - and as a school, you hope to continue to have leverage over each. In this scenario, the total character score, regardless of the underlying assessment weights, is given a 33% weight when calculating the overall average. Likewise, the total academic score is given 67% weight. To set this, use the same procedure described above but drag the Academic slider to 67 (sorry, we don't currently support 66.666666666666667%).
- "We grade on a rubric scale from 0-4 or using 'codes.' How do we convert this into a letter or 0-100 grade?" (note: JumpRope supports three grading modes: traditional percentage mode, rubric mode from 0-4 or on a custom scale, and code mode which allows you to use letter codes to indicate levels of mastery. This explanation assumes that you are using something other than 0-100 percentage mode). JumpRope supports a number of different "conversion algorithms" for translating your scores into 0-100 grades, and it even allows you to easily export to Excel to perform your own conversion. When choosing your scale, carefully consider how your rubricized "language of mastery" should translate into traditional metrics such as "passage" and "honor roll." Here are the options:
- Recommended Scale: 4=100, 3=85, 2=70, 1=55, 0=55 (this one is affectionately known as the "Validus" scale, as it was the result of years of thought-work at our flagship school). This scale works out to a 1.67 converting into a 65 (a passing grade), allows for students to receive a 100 if they're awesome, and typically results in "normed" passage rates in courses. For these reasons, this is the default conversion scale for schools that have not indicated a preference to another.
- Linear Scale: 4=100, 3=75, 2=50, 1=25, 0=0.
- Count by Tens: 4=100, 3=90, 2=80, 1=70, 0=60.
- Count by Twenties: 4=100, 2=80, 2=60, 1=40, 0=20.
- Count by Fifteens: 4=100, 3=85, 2=70, 1=55, 0=40.
- On the Fives: 4=95, 3=85, 2=75, 1=65, 0=55.
- Percent Passed: calculate final grades based on the percentage of standards that have met a particular threshold (e.g. "pass" all of your standards in order to pass the class).
- Any crazy scheme that you can dream up: we recognize that fitting beautiful, pure mastery data into external systems for external audiences is hard. If you're willing to pay, we can develop a custom conversion (on time cost) for your district or school that will basically apply any algebraic transformation of your scores to come up with a final grade that makes sense in your context. You have to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for this, but we have yet to see a conversion scheme that we cannot accommodate!
Given these options, we hope you can find a solution that works well with your school's approach to mastery-based grading. If you are a teacher simply hoping to calculate your grade averages, please contact the JumpRope "Point Person" and discuss this with them, as they will have the ability to change school-wide settings. If you are school administrator or other sort of leader, please consider these options carefully and include key staff in any decisions - after all, final grades are very important to teachers, students, and external audiences.
As always, let us know below if you have any questions.