Mastery Based Grading Policy
Glossary of Terms
Annualized -Refers to the delivery model of courses at UA Maker. Each course is designed so that students may achieve Mastery in the content and skills of the course throughout the year over a 38 week instructional approach.
Term -The length of time a student is enrolled in a course.
Standards - The outcomes that must be mastered in order to pass, and attain credit, for a course. Standards may be established at the course, department, grade, or school level.
Proficiency - represents a high standard of performance that serves as a 'cut point' or score on a given assessment, as a specific level on a rubric. A proficiency score may be exceeded by an “advanced” score.
Mastery - implies that proficiency has been demonstrated multiple times and in multiple ways or contexts.
Asynchronous - means that students are not working at the same time as others.
Personalization - means that students may not be working on the same work as others.
AtBat - means a student assessment of standards given after practice
How Courses are Graded
Grades at UA Maker provide precise, actionable feedback about student's ability to master a course’s standards (NYS, Common Core, Next Gen, Design Thinking, and Academic & Personal Behaviors).
Since the rapidly changing workplace calls for our future Makers to apply what they know and are able to do in novel situations and with independence, students at UA Maker have demonstrated mastery when they show their understanding on their own, across time and situations. At UA Maker, when you demonstrate your understanding once, you are proficient. When you show your understanding repeatedly, you have mastered a skill.
Students will have the opportunity to learn content and skills in subject area classes and whole school design challenges. Thus, at UA Maker, Mastery means being able to demonstrate repeated proficiency of a particular process, content, or skill as measured by different types of assessments that ask students to apply what they know in different ways when they are ready to demonstrate mastery of a skill.
Standards in a Course
We assess our students on the following criteria:
Mastery Grading Policy
Academic Content Knowledge and Skills
Each course has 10-20 standards on discrete content knowledge and skills we expect students to master. These content standards are based on the New York State, Common Core Standards, Industry Standards, and Next Gen Science standards.
We have developed a shared, school-wide Design Thinking rubric with specific assessment standards grouped into 5 stages: Discover, Define, Design, Develop, Deliver. Each course includes at least one standard from each of the Design Thinking stages, for a total of at least 5.
We have developed a shared, school-wide set of Core Values to set expectations for student's academic and personal behaviors grouped into 5 values: Curiosity, Empathy, Risk Taking, Self-Awareness, and Resilience. Each course includes at least one standard from each of the Core Values, for a total of at least 5.
These standards are weighted to count for 80% of the overall grade for a course. Student mastery of each individual standard is calculated using a Power Law which is a time-based average that gives higher weight to more recent assessments. This calculation method recognizes growth and doesn’t penalize students for low scores early in the learning. As a result of this calculation method, teachers do not need to set assessment weights and must give students at least 3 assessments on each standard.
Design Thinking and Core Values
These standards are weighted to count for 20% of the overall grade for a course. Student mastery of each individual standard is calculated using a standard average. This calculation method recognizes consistency.
All assessments are scored on a 1-4 scale using a common rubric across all standards.
4: In addition to Score 3 performance, in-depth inferences and applications that go beyond what was taught.
3: No errors or omissions regarding any of the information and/or processes (simple or complex) that were explicitly taught.
2: No major errors or omissions regarding the simpler details and processes but major errors or omissions regarding the more complex ideas and processes.
1: With help, a partial understanding of some of the simpler details and processes and some of the more complex ideas and processes.
Overall Grade Calculation
While all of our scores are on a 1-4 scale, we do calculate a converted numeric grade (on a 1-100 scale) for student transcripts. We use the following grade conversions:
4 = 100
3 = 85
2 = 70
1 = 55
Mastery Based Grading
Courses at UA Maker are designed so that students may develop and demonstrate their mastery of concepts and skills through multiple measures of performance. These measures include Performance Tasks, AtBats, classwork, projects and assignments, homework, and other methods of formative and summative assessment as designed by the individual course teacher.
A substantial majority of grades at UA Maker are based on the individual student’s mastery of course content, and are not based on completion of assignments alone.
Each course has a collection of standards which represent the required knowledge, content, and skills, which a student must master in order to pass the course and earn credit. Students are provided with a minimum of three opportunities to demonstrate their competency for each of the standards within the course as part of formal AtBat assessments. To pass a course and receive credit, a student must demonstrate an acceptable level of mastery for a minimum of 65% of the course standards, as described in the implementation section of this grading policy.
Mastery of any standard is calculated by a Power Law using the following formula, which is computed automatically through the JumpRope grading system:
This formula analyzes the trend in the scores on the assignments aligned to that standard and predicts what the student’s next score will be. The Power Law calculation factors all assessment items aligned to a particular standard while giving more weight to the most recent items. Below are several examples of the Power Calculation for students with scores of 1, 2, 3, and 4 on four aligned items, but in different chronological orders.
Credit by Examination
Students may earn up to two credits per exam subject through credit-by-examination, where the student has attained a score of 85 or above on the corresponding Regents exam. Students may earn up to a total of 13 credits without completing units of study, where all of the following criteria are met:
The student has not previously attempted, and failed, the course for which they are attempting to gain credit-by-examination
The high school superintendent or their designee determines that the student will benefit academically by exercising this alternative
The principal determines that the student successfully completed an oral examination or special project demonstrating proficiency of the subject matter developed in the course but not measured by the relevant exams
Students attempting to earn credit-by-examination in science have completed the compulsory laboratory component with passing status and documented laboratory reports
Students may not use an ELA Regents exam, taken in 11th grade, to give credit for 12th grade ELA courses which would otherwise be completed after the ELA Regents exam.
Credit-by-examination is not available for Languages other than English (LOTE) subjects.
Determination of Promotion in Doubt
In January of each year, students facing substantial risk of accumulating insufficient credit to be promoted to the next grade shall be identified and their families advised in writing no later than the second week of February.
In determining substantial risk, the administration and staff shall consider:
The students overall progress toward sufficient Mastery of course standards
Whether, in the opinion of the classroom teacher, the student is expected to attain mastery and receive applicable credit
Make up assignments and missed work
Small Assessments: Teachers typically assign a number of formative assessments of learning throughout the unit, such as quizzes, discussions, problem sets, etc. These assessments take no more than a class period to complete and are primarily used for teachers and students to monitor progress throughout the learning process. If a student is absent or does not turn in one of these assessments, we do not have any evidence of their level of mastery on the given standards. For these assessments, the teacher enters a mark of M on Jumprope for all content and design thinking standards. This mark of M will alert the student that they are missing work but will not impact the student’s mastery grade for that standard. If there are core value standards associated with the assessment, the teacher may choose to enter either a mark of M or a mark of zero for those standards.
Project Benchmarks and Performance Tasks: Each unit involves a performance task where students demonstrate their mastery of the unit standards and several benchmarks that are critical for the successful completion of the performance task. These assignments typically assess several standards and require students to apply their learning across multiple lessons. Therefore these assessments are really important for students to complete if they are missing. For these assessments, the teacher enters a mark of X on Jumprope for all content and design thinking standards and a mark of zero for all core value standards. This mark of X will alert the student that they are missing work and will negatively impact the student’s mastery grade for the standards.
Students are encouraged to use their feedback to revise their work and improve their mastery of standards. Teachers should make all assessments available for students to either revise or complete a reassessment (such as a quiz on the same math standard but new questions). Along with their revised work, students also submit a grade improvement request reflecting on the level their new work meets and identifying the evidence in their work that justifies receiving that level. If their work and request meets expectations, the teacher will revise the student’s grade on Jumprope.
Students may submit any assessment late until the end of the marking period in which it was assigned or 1 week after the deadline, whichever is longer. If a student submits an assignment more than 1 week after the deadline posted on Jumprope or Google Classroom, they must submit a grade improvement request along with their work.
Grade improvement forms
When submitting revisions to previously graded work, students must submit a grade improvement form either on paper or digitally stating the standard, a claim for the requested rubric level for each standard, and evidence to support the claim. If submitting work more than 1 week past the deadline posted on Google Classroom, students must also submit the grade improvement form.
Teachers must have grade improvement form available to students on paper or digitally (draft of a potential google form version). Teachers must require students to submit an improvement form before entering grade changes on Google Classroom for revised or late work. Teachers must include due dates on Google Classroom assignments. Teachers must make rubrics available to students on Google Classroom and/or on paper performance tasks.
When a student has missed work as a result of documented excusable absence (for example, a doctor’s appointment), classroom teachers shall provide the opportunity for students to submit the work.
Students missing work as a result of unexcused absences shall be provided with opportunities to submit work at the discretion of the classroom teacher. In cases where the classroom teacher agrees to offer the opportunity to submit work, the teacher shall clearly establish a deadline with the student and ensure the student has access to the materials required to complete the work. The teacher has the option of allowing the student to submit the missed assignment, or providing a modified assignment which addresses, at least, the same standards as the original missed work.
Using this option, teachers are able to provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of a variety of course standards by completing a modified assignment which addresses standards from multiple missed assignments.
Students are expected to earn a passing grade (Emerging Proficient or higher) on 65% of the standards within a course.
All UA Maker courses are instructionally annualized, meaning that they are designed for students to achieve mastery in their standards through a 10 month learning cycle. In some cases, courses meet only in the Fall semester. Most students will achieve mastery of standards during that term, however, students may continue to work with their teachers in after school sessions or by completing tasks assigned in Google Classroom through the rest of the year. Course extensions apply only to students who require time during Term 7 (Summer) to demonstrate their mastery. Courses which meet only during the Fall semester are not eligible for course extensions in the Summer semester.
Scale of Marks Awarded
UA Maker provides grade feedback to students based on a six point scale of grades, which are converted to their numeric equivalents prior to being recorded in STARS. Wherever possible, classroom teachers provide feedback to students based on their mastery of course concepts and skills without relying on numeric feedback. At the end of each of four marking periods, students and families receive interim grades as they appear in STARS to ensure transparency around student progress.
The grade feedback that students will receive most frequently as part of their studies are:
All assessments are scored on a 1-4 scale using a common rubric across all standards.
Overall Grade Calculation
4 = 100
3 = 85
2 = 70
1 = 55
The values listed for "Grade" above are used in the calculation of decaying average as part of the formula to determine student's mastery of standards.
Numeric Grade Scale
Most courses at UA Maker use the Numeric Grade scale (1 - 100) to report student grades at the end of each marking period, including final grades at the conclusion of the term. Scores of 1 - 64 equate to a failing grade, and scores 65 - 100 equate to a passing grade resulting in the accumulation of credit toward graduation. A score of 65 is the lowest possible passing score.
Generally, a student who attended the course but failed to successfully demonstrate their mastery of the content and skills, who did not qualify for grades outlined below, will receive a score of 55.
Pass / Fail Scale
Non-credit bearing courses have their final grades reported using the Pass / Fail grading scale. P, "Pass", is recorded on the student transcript indicating their successful completion of the course. F, "Fail", is recorded in circumstances where the student was not able to meet the criteria to pass.
Fulfilled Distribution Requirement (ND)
ND is the grade assigned to students when, through participation in an integrated course, they have successfully met a distribution requirement for purposes of progress toward graduation. UA Maker offers a variety of integrated courses, identified as such within the applicable course syllabus.
Course Extension and Audit (NU)
NU is a grade assigned to students who have successfully applied for a course extension based on the school course extension policy, and have subsequently completed a Course Extension Agreement. Following the assignment of this grade, students are enrolled in new course codes during Term 7 (summer), and are permitted to complete and submit the remaining course requirements in order to demonstrate their competency in the course content. These course codes are identified through the use of E in the seventh code position. Students earn credit through this process as applicable through the course extension process.
Note: A student enrolled in Algebra, MEN11, needs additional time to demonstrate mastery of the course content and successfully applies for a course extension with the help of their advisor. The student completes the Course Extension Agreement and receives a grade of NU in MEN11, and is enrolled in MEN11QE. The student continues to work on the course content during Term 7. After three weeks, the student has successfully attained a passing grade as a result of demonstrating mastery of the course content, and receives the applicable grade and credit for MEN11QE.
Distinguishing between Course Extensions and Targeted Credit Recovery
The course extension procedure in place at UA Maker has been established in acknowledgement that, due to differences in the pace of learning of individual students, some students benefit from additional time and support in order to achieve mastery in the content of the course. Our Mastery Based learning model is intended to support the differences between students and to enable them, as much as possible, to learn and grow through high quality instruction and at their own unique pace.
These goals are supported by our school wide annualized instructional approach and our use of a variety of course content delivery mechanisms.
Targeted Credit Recovery, designated by the letter R in the seventh code position. In these circumstances and wherever possible, UA Maker provides students with opportunities to repeat course content using "Selective" versions of courses to avoid the repetition of circumstances identical to those under which the student was not able to be successful on their initial attempt. IN alignment to the NYC Academic Policy guidelines, students are allowed to earn no more than 3 Core Credits via credit recovery. As per FAQ 10 in Credit Recovery FAQS There is no limit to the number of credits students may earn through credit recovery in other subject areas.
In extenuating, documented circumstances (such as a death in the family, surgery), students may receive a grade of Incomplete (appears as NX on their transcript). A student may make an explicit application for an Incomplete grade as part of the Course Extension Application Process. The student’s advisor or any staff member may also initiate such an application on behalf of the student.
A student who has been determined to be eligible for a grade of Incomplete will be provided with a letter outlining the conditions of the NX grade. Both the student and their advisor must sign this letter prior to the grade being assigned to the student by the programming chair.
A student who has been awarded a grade of Incomplete must successfully complete the remaining course requirements by the end of the term following the termination of the course in order to receive a final grade and credit, as applicable. NX does not have a pass/fail or numeric equivalent.
New or Recently Admitted Students (NL)
Students who enroll in a course after it has started may have missed assignments or assessments needed to generate a complete course grade for a given marking period. These students may be given a grade of NL in STARS to indicate this circumstance. ‘NL’ does not have a pass/fail or numeric equivalent. Students who receive a mark of NL must successfully complete remaining course requirements by the end of the term following the termination of the course in order to receive a final grade and credit, as applicable.
A student may use their status as a New or Recently Admitted Student in support of their application for a course extension. Each student's advisor, or any member of staff, may initiate such an application on behalf of the student.
A student who has been determined to be eligible for a grade of Incomplete will be provided with a letter outlining the conditions of the NL grade. Both the student and their advisor must sign this letter prior to the grade being assigned to the student by the programming chair.
No Show (NS)
A grade of NS 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 is 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. Classroom teachers may award this grade in consultation with the Admin team where both the following conditions are met:
The student has not completed any graded coursework
The students course attendance rate is 60% or less
Course Waived (NW)
Used to waive incomplete gym credit requirements where the student has completed all other graduation requirements. Equivalent to a Pass.
Long-term absenteeism and Home and Hospital Instruction
Where possible, instead of giving failing grades, long-term absentees (LTA) shall be discharged appropriately. Similarly, students who are on home and hospital instruction shall not receive NS marks.
Friday October 6 - Grades Close for 1st MP
Tuesday October 10 - Grades Due
Friday November 9 - Grades Close for MP 2
Tuesday November 14 - Grades Due
Friday December 22 - Grades Close for MP 3
Tuesday January 2 - Grades Due
Friday January 19 - Grades Close for MP 4
February 15th - Grades Close for MP 5
Families notified for students who are Promotion in Doubt
February 27 - Grades Due
Thursday March 29 - Grades Close for MP 6
Tuesday April 10 - Grades Due
Wednesday April 5 - Grades Due
Friday May 11 - Grades Close for MP 7
Tuesday May 15 - Grades Due
Friday June 8th - Grades Close for MP 8
Monday June 11 - Last Day of Classes
June 15th - Final deadline for completed Course Extension Agreements
Tuesday June 26 - Last Day of School
When and how a grade can be changed after it has been finalized
Grades in STARS are finalized four weeks following the end of the term. As courses at UA Maker are designed to adhere to an annualized instructional approach, the applicable deadline falls approximately four weeks after the conclusion of classes at the end of the school year.
Grades may be changed after this deadline only by a member of the school administration or the programming chair, and only at the direction of the principal. The principal shall direct retroactive changes to student grades only during the following circumstances:
An error was made in the calculation or entry of a grade
A grade update must be made after the completion of outstanding coursework, replacing NX (incomplete) or NL (recent admit), no later than the end of the term following the grade (Term 7)
In the event of a Principal Override, in accordance with CSA and UFT contracts
Courses at UA Maker are instructionally annualized, designed to accommodate students in demonstrating mastery of course content and skills through a 36 week learning cycle, and coded in STARS using N in the third character, indicating annual course duration with transcript grades posted once per year.
Some courses at UA Maker meet predominantly during either the fall or spring semester. Learning activities and opportunities to demonstrate enhanced mastery are spiraled throughout the year. Classroom teachers use school-wide activities as opportunities to improve the accuracy of the grades and feedback provided to students.
As a result of this year long term model, grades are finalized for all courses four weeks after the conclusion of classes at the end of the spring semester. Annualization updates are not generally used as a process to document the growing mastery of students, which is captured instead by the interim grades delivered to students and families at the conclusion of each of the four marking periods, and which more accurately reports the narrative of student's growth in each course.
Multiple Grading Policies
This school-wide grading policy represents the standard procedure for the calculation and awarding of grades at UA Maker.
In order to preserve flexibility for modifications to the school wide grading policy, additional grading policies may be established either at the department, grade, or course level, provided that the alternate policy apply equally to all students within the impacted department, grade, or course. In circumstances where additional grading policies are established, they must be made available to all impacted students and families. At the course level, grading policies should be established as part of the syllabus, and made available to students at the beginning of the course.
Grading policies modifying the school-wide grading policy may only be established when all of the following conditions are met:
The teacher seeking to establish the alternate policy must consult with the principal or their designee and receive their approval
The alternate policy must be in full compliance with academic policy set forth by the Department of Education
The policy must be published and made widely available at the beginning of the term in which the policy shall take effect
The policy must explain:
When students receive grades
How courses are graded
How mastery is measured
The scale of marks used by the department, grade level, or course
Implementing Mastery Based Grading to Physical Education
In accordance with DOE Academic policy, student grades are primarily determined by mastery of course content and skills for all courses at UA Maker. Non-mastery measures, represented by the Success Strategies collection of standards, are not used as a determining factor in the success of students for any particular course.
Applying these principles to Physical Education, gym classes at UA Maker require students to demonstrate mastery of the collection of standards made available through Google Classroom at the beginning of the term. Gym classes are not graded solely on attendance, participation, or preparedness. student's demonstration of these non-mastery factors contributes to their grades.
The NYC FITNESSGRAM may be used in support of student's mastery of the course standards, however, improvement in FITNESSGRAM scores is not a factor in determining student grades.
Availability of the grading policy
The current school-wide grading policy is available on the school website at http://dev.uamaker.nyc/grading-policy.
Updating the grading policy
Any person is free to contribute suggestions for changes to the grading policy (updates, error correction, modification or other). Throughout the school year, suggestions and contributions from staff, families, students, and any other source will be collected and considered for the following year. During the summer term, opportunities shall be provided for staff to discuss these changes, with the final determination of the grading policy to be at the discretion of the principal with consultation from teachers and families.
Any changes to the grading policy will not take effect until a new version is published at the beginning of the following academic year.
Any person wishing to provide feedback, contributions, or suggestions should consult the Contributions section above.
UA Maker gratefully acknowledges resources, support and feedback from the Department of Education, from The Urban Assembly, Mastery Collaborative, Springpoint Parters in School Design, Competency Works, and schools throughout the country working with Mastery Based Grading Models, and from numerous consultations and supportive discussions shared with experts in the field, all of which have made the construction of this grading policy possible.
Key documents supporting our grading policy include: