A-RMS Grading/Assessment/Test Retake Equity Plan

The Apollo-Ridge Middle School strives to implement Growth Mindset practices within our classrooms.  Growth Mindset describes a way of viewing challenges and setbacks.  People who have a Growth Mindset believe that even if they struggle with certain skills, their abilities aren’t set in stone.  They think that with hard work and dedication, their skills can improve over time.  Students with a growth mindset embrace challenges by stretching themselves.  With a growth mindset, students see mistakes as learning opportunities, and they learn from feedback.  Instead of feeling like they’ve failed the task, students realize that they haven’t met the expectations... YET.
Over the years, the Middle School has adopted this philosophy and implemented many Growth Mindset strategies within the building.  Many of these practices revolve around Grading and Assessment.  Below are some of policies we have in place for ALL Middle School Students and the classes they are in:
Test Retakes
  • ALL Middle School students are permitted to retake any test (TESTS ONLY) regardless of their score on first test AND the highest score will be recorded in the gradebook.
  • Students are only permitted to retake that particular test 1 time.  Students are not given an unlimited amount of times to retake the same test.
  • Each Middle School Teacher will have the flexibility to create their own criteria for allowing students to retake a test.  Examples of some of the criteria that may be required includes:  Maintaining or organizing a class notes binder, all previous assignments prior to the test must be completed and turned in, complete a NEW study guide or review sheet, etc.  Teachers may include a parent signature letter notifying the parent that their child is planning on retaking a test.  Please note that the criteria for retaking a test will be left to each individual teacher and that criteria should be noted within their class syllabus.  
Why Test Retakes?
The Apollo-Ridge Middle School wants to promote Growth Mindset in students by allowing ALL students the ability to retake tests.  This will allow all students (regardless of their score) the ability to strive to get better.  Permitting students to retake tests (and recording the highest score) allows them to see value in the "if you don't succeed at first, try again" mindset.  It also demonstrates and reinforces that the content they are learning is valuable not only before and during the assessment, but also well after the assessment.  We also hope that this strategy will help reinforce the "NOT YET" mentality within our students.
Late Work
  • ALL Late Work will be accepted for full credit.  We will try everything possible to avoid giving a student a "0" on an assignment.
  • Strategies teachers may use to encourage work completion include:  Working Lunch, Working Club, Phone Call Home, After School "Work Time" on Tuesday's from 2:30pm-5:30pm, and Incompletes (I) for quarterly grades.
Why allow Late Work to be turned in for full credit?
The Apollo-Ridge Middle School wants to promote Growth Mindset in students by allowing ALL students the ability to turn in all assignments late and receive full credit.  This may seem contradictory to best practice.  However, by allowing students the ability to do this, it stresses the importance of the assignment and DOING THE WORK.  Some students try to avoid doing certain undesirable tasks.  Not allowing students to pick and choose the tasks they want to do and don't want to do will help reinforce responsibility and hopefully work ethic skills they will need when they enter the work force.  This strategy will also allow students the ability to see the benefit of doing the work and turning in their without penalty.  Penalties for Late Work tend to deter students from doing the work.  Giving a "grading penalty" for turning in the assignment late also prevents the grade from accurately reflecting what the student learned or knows.
Gradebook Weighting System
  • Middle School Teachers will use a Gradebook Weighting System that will follow the parameters listed below:
  1. Projects (Assignments that take multiple days to complete both at school and at home) will consist of no more than 20% of the final quarterly grade.
  2. Quizzes (Short assessments with small chunks of information that are completed entirely at school) will consist of no more than 20% of the final quarterly grade.
  3. Homework (any assignment taken home overnight to complete) will consist of no more than 5% of the final quarterly grade.
  4. Participation (in class work, practice, remediation, group work, class discussion, etc.) will consist of no more than 5% of the final quarterly grade.
  5. Summative Assessments (Larger assessments typically given at the end of unit topics) will consist of less than 60% of the final quarterly grade.
  6. NOTE:  There are a few exceptions to this system.  Teachers that don't grade participation and homework are permitted to use a "total points" gradebook.  Some related arts teaches are permitted to use "total points" gradebooks as well.
Why utilize a Gradebook Weighting System?
The Apollo-Ridge Middle School believes that grades should be a reflection of what students know and are able to do, and on the mastery of the content/skills that were delivered in class.  Grades should also communicate to students and parents how far a student has progressed in their learning while in that particular class.  This is why we utilize both a Gradebook Weighting System and a hybrid standards-based report card.  This system will allow us to accurately reflect this information via grades (to some degree).   This will help promote Growth Mindset by allowing students to see that their grades are reflective of what they learned and their work/effort.
Growth Mindset