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HCPSS / POLICIES

Policy 8010 – Grading and Reporting: Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade 5

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines to ensure that information on grading, reporting, promotion, retention, and homework is determined in a clear and consistent manner, and is reported to students and their families through regular and timely communication that accurately reflects the student’s mastery of standards.

Policy Document

This document has been temporarily modified during the 2021-2022 school year to support COVID-19 recovery needs.

I. Policy Value Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County is committed to ensuring that all students learn and that students, parents, teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders are provided meaningful feedback on student achievement. Grading, reporting, promotion, and retention within the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) are based on the individual student’s mastery of curriculum standards. Additionally, the Board supports students in maintaining and extending their learning through the use of homework as part of the curricular program.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines to ensure that information on grading, reporting, promotion, retention, and homework is determined in a clear and consistent manner, and is reported to students and their families through regular and timely communication that accurately reflects the student’s mastery of standards.

III. Standards

  1. Grading – The grading system is used to reflect student achievement of Prekindergarten-5 curriculum standards.

    1. Academic Grades

      Grades will be reported on interim/progress reports and on the report card. In Prekindergarten-5, grades are derived from a compilation of what students know and/or can do from that entire marking period.

      Grades in Prekindergarten-5 reflect curriculum standards with the following:

      1. L – Limited or no progress toward meeting expectation of the curriculum standard (see comment).

      2. P – Making progress towards meeting the expectation of the curriculum standard.

      3. M – Meets expectation of the curriculum standard.

    2. Learning Behaviors

      Learning Behaviors in Prekindergarten-5 reflect curriculum standards, social and emotional learning standards, and personal work habits and are reported with the following:

      1. 1 – Meeting expectations consistently and independently.

      2. 2 – Progressing toward meeting expectations.

      3. 3 – Demonstrating limited or no progress towards meeting expectations.

    3. Prekindergarten-5 Comments

      Teachers may comment about performance on curriculum standards, social and emotional learning, and personal work habits in individual subject areas.

    4. Instructional levels

      1. For K-5, the instructional text levels will be reported.

      2. For K-5, mathematics reporting will reflect mathematics course placement.

    5. Make-Up Work

      1. A student may make up and receive a recorded grade for work missed due to a lawful absence or field trip attendance. Students returning from lawful absences or field trips will have the number of days equal to the number of days lawfully absent to complete the make-up work.

      2. A student may make up work but will not receive a recorded grade for work missed due to an unlawful absence.

      3. For course content grades, students may redo make up work assignments to demonstrate a satisfactory level of mastery at a minimum.

      4. For SY21-22 only, students who were able to participate in instruction during COVID-19 related quarantine will have the number of days equal to the number of days in quarantine to complete the make-up work.

    6. Prompt feedback is essential for developing student understanding. The grading and return of student work will occur within three weeks, in class or in the learning management system.

    7. Student grades may not be subject to a reduction for lateness to class, absence, behavior or disciplinary action. Such actions could impact the final grade, however, in an indirect manner because of missed work and incomplete assignments.

    8. Grading of Homework

      Homework is not graded in Prekindergarten-5 although feedback is given.

    9. Extra credit is not offered in Prekindergarten-5. However, students will be provided with opportunities to demonstrate mastery through other relevant coursework, as appropriate.

    10. Grading of Group Assignments

      1. The grade that each member of the group receives will reflect his or her own contributions to the group assignment.

      2. Recognizing that it is unfair for students to be graded on the quality of work that is not their own, students will not be graded on the quality of the project as a whole.

  2. Reporting

    On a regular basis, school staff will communicate to the students and parents the level of the student’s achievement in each subject area. Communication will take the following forms:

    1. Teachers will provide updates on student progress throughout the marking period. Parents may access a student’s progress through the learning management system. Additionally, teachers may communicate progress with parents in person, by phone, or in writing, either electronically or in print.

    2. Report Cards

      1. Report cards are issued at the conclusion of each marking period and will reflect all work completed during that marking period unless otherwise indicated by the teacher.

      2. Parents will be informed of the report card distribution dates.

    3. Conferences

      1. Parent-teacher conference days are determined by the Board of Education and are identified on the school system calendar each year. These are opportunities for the parents to meet with each teacher to discuss the progress that the student is making and to discuss interventions or assistance being recommended to ensure the child achieves.

      2. Parents may contact the teacher or administrator to arrange additional conference times with a teacher or the administrator.

      3. Conferences may or may not include the student, at the parent’s discretion.

    4. Retention Notification

      Parents will be notified in writing (by a letter to their home address) if a student is at risk of being retained in a grade. This notification may occur as early as the end of the second marking period but no later than the end of the third marking period.

  3. Report Card Grade and/or Code Change

    1. A change of a report card grade will be made for a sound educational purpose according to the following protocol:

      1. A teacher will not change a student’s report card grade unless the change is documented on a grade change form and the change is approved by the principal. The teacher will follow the procedures established by the HCPSS below in Section III.C.2.

      2. A principal may change a student’s report card grade only after conferring with the teacher who assigned the grade. The principal will notify the teacher in writing if the grade is to be changed. The principal is responsible for implementing the procedures defined by the HCPSS below in Section III.C.2. for processing and recording a grade change and subsequent change to permanent records.

      3. Grade and/or code changes cannot exceed 45 school days following the last day of school in the marking period in which the change is to be made.

      4. For a grade change for the 4th marking period, final assessments or for a non-traditional course, the timeline would begin on the first day of school in the new school year.

    2. Procedures

      1. Grade and/or code changes must be documented on the grade change form. Parents must be notified of the grade change by the teacher or the principal.

        1. The grade change form needs a signature from the teacher, the teacher’s secretary, and the principal. It needs to include a reason for the grade change and date of the approval.

        2. Copies of the grade change form go into the student’s cumulative record, to the teacher, to the teacher’s secretary, and to the Office of School Counseling.

        3. A grade change may be authorized by the Executive Director of Program Innovation and Student Well-Being, Chief Academic Officer, Chief School Management and Instructional Leadership Officer, or Community Superintendent. If a grade change is generated from outside the school, a grade change form is still completed with a reason for the change. This form goes into the student’s cumulative record and to the principal and teacher’s secretary.

      2. Parents will be notified of the grade change by the teacher, principal, or Central Office employee changing the grade.

      3. The Office of School Counseling will audit the grade changes annually.

      4. Appeals of grade changes can be made to the Community Superintendent.

  4. Academic Intervention

    When the performance of any K-5 student is below expectations, the teacher and/or grade level team will, with the knowledge and appropriate participation of parents, develop strategies and apply appropriate academic interventions to assist the student with achievement.

  5. Promotion, Retention, and Accelerated Grade Placement

    1. Promotion

      1. Students in prekindergarten will be promoted at the end of the school year. Students granted early admission to prekindergarten will be considered for promotion to kindergarten after successful completion of prekindergarten.

      2. Students in K-5 will be promoted on successful completion of the curriculum in language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, and health.

    2. Retention

      1. For any K-5 student:

        1. The principal may decide, upon recommendation of the school/grade level team with parent input, to retain students based on academic performance.

        2. A parent may request that a principal consider retention of a student.

        3. The IEP team must convene a meeting to discuss the retention request. The purpose is to document considerations for the determination only. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) team does not determine or approve retention. Information from the IEP team meeting should be used to address the request for a diploma-bound special education student with an IEP.

        4. If a principal is considering retaining a student, s/he will notify the student’s parents of their concerns by the first week of the 3rd marking period.

      2. Students in grade K through grade 5 not meeting requirements for promotion will be considered for retention. A student considered for retention may be recommended to attend summer school.

    3. Accelerated Grade Placement

      1. A principal may, upon the recommendation of a school/grade team or parent, accelerate a student to an advanced full grade level when the student demonstrates the ability to achieve at a higher level than expected in the curriculum standards and as measured by quarterly, teacher made and other assessments, and by teacher observations.

      2. The principal will decide whether to accelerate the student to an advanced full grade level based on a number of factors, which may include, but are not limited to the following:

        • Academic achievement level

        • Age of the student

        • Previous accelerations

        • Attendance record

        • Parental concerns

        • Social and emotional developmental learning

        • Health factors

        • Report card

        • IEP

        • 504 Plan

      3. Students will not be accelerated to advanced grades against the wishes of their parent.

  6. Homework

    1. Homework will be purposeful, appropriate, informational, and flexible.

      1. Purposeful: Students understand why they are completing homework. Homework is grounded in and expands upon skills and knowledge students have learned in the classroom.

      2. Appropriate: Homework should be designed so that all students can experience success in independent completion of assignments. Accommodations will be provided as outlined in students’ IEPs and Section Plans on homework.

      3. Informational: Homework enables parents to be included in their child’s day-to-day school experiences.

      4. Flexible: Assignments can be successfully completed within timeframes that have flexible deadlines when possible.

    2. Homework processes will be communicated with all stakeholders.

      1. Each school year, schools will provide information to parents about the school’s homework procedures.

      2. Teachers are required to ensure that homework is accommodated/modified as necessary in accordance with students’ IEPs and 504 Plans.

      3. Teachers will provide feedback on homework assignments.

      4. No mandatory homework assignments are to be given only electronically.

      5. No mandatory homework assignments will require access to home-based internet or computers for either the completion or the submission of the work.

      6. No homework assignments will be due on a day schools are closed due to inclement weather.

      7. There will be no mandatory homework given over the summer for all grade levels, nor winter or spring breaks for students in grades Prekindergarten-5.

      8. A student may make up and receive a recorded grade for homework not completed due to the observance of a religious holiday. Students returning from a religious holiday observance will have an equal number of days to complete make-up work.

    3. Amount and Purpose of Homework

      1. Grades Prekindergarten-Kindergarten

        1. Amount: No more than 20 minutes of homework per night will be assigned in total.

        2. Purpose: Homework provides practice opportunities for skill development. There will be no assignments that must be submitted to the teacher.

        3. Teaching staff will be provided with opportunities to meet as teams to schedule assignments so that students do not regularly have more than 20 minutes of homework each night.

      2. Grades 1-2

        1. Amount: No more than 20 minutes of homework per night will be assigned.

        2. Purpose: Homework provides practice opportunities for skill development.

        3. Teaching staff will be provided with opportunities to meet as teams to schedule assignments so that students do not regularly have more than 20 minutes of homework each night.

      3. Grades 3-5

        1. Amount: No more than 30 minutes required per night in grade 3; 40 minutes in grade 4; and 50 minutes in grade 5.

        2. Purpose: Homework reflects daily instruction, reinforces previously taught skills, prepares students for future lessons, and/or promotes creativity.

        3. Teaching staff will be provided with opportunities to meet as teams to schedule assignments so that students do not regularly have more than 30 minutes required per night in grade 3; 40 minutes in grade 4; and 50 minutes in grade 5.

IV. Responsibilities

  1. Principals will communicate annually information regarding promotion, retention, and accelerated grade placement, and homework to all students, parents, and staff.

  2. The principal will make decisions regarding promotion, retention and accelerated grade placement, with input from the appropriate school/grade level team and based on a student’s performance and academic progress over the entire school year.

  3. School staff will communicate information related to academic performance to parents and students and for developing, implementing, and monitoring strategies to improve achievement for students performing below grade level expectations.

V. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is directed to develop procedures to implement this policy.

VI. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. 504 Plan – A written document developed for an eligible student that allows the student to receive a free and appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

  2. Accelerated Grade Placement – The movement of a student out of the normal progression to an advanced grade.

  3. Assessment – An evaluation of what students know and/or can do.

  4. Comment – Written statement indicating student performance in subject areas, social and emotional learning behaviors, and/or personal work habits.

  5. Curriculum – The prescribed elements of programs and courses which state clearly and specifically what students are expected to know and be able to do, how well they will be able to do it, how they will meet the curriculum standards, and by what means they will be assessed.

  6. Curriculum Standards – The learning outcomes that students are expected to master, which reflect the best knowledge of the developmental needs of learners, and that comply with requirements from local policy and state law.

  7. Individualized Education Program (IEP) – A written plan for a student with a disability that is developed, reviewed, and revised by the IEP team.

  8. Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team – A group of individuals responsible for identifying and evaluating students with disabilities. The IEP team develops, reviews, and/or revises an IEP for a student with a disability and determines placement.

  9. Grade – A measure of performance related to achievement of course standards.

  10. Homework – An assignment to be completed outside of class.

  11. Lawful (Excused) Absence – An absence for any portion of the day under the following conditions:

    1. Death in the immediate family

    2. Illness of the student

    3. Pregnancy and parenting needs

    4. Court summons

    5. Hazardous weather conditions

    6. Work approved or sponsored by the school

    7. Observance of a religious holiday

    8. State emergency

    9. Suspension

    10. Lack of authorized transportation

    11. Other emergency or set of circumstances which, in the judgment of the Superintendent or designee, constitutes a good and sufficient cause for absence from school.

  12. Marking Period – A segment of the school year during which instruction is delivered, student pupil progress is monitored, and grades are given.

  13. Non-traditional Courses – Courses that are organized and delivered using different time, location, or instructional methods from traditional in-person instruction. These may include dual enrollment college courses, fully online courses, courses taught during the evening or summer, etc.

  14. Parent – Any one of the following, recognized as the adult(s) legally responsible for the student:

    1. Biological Parent – A natural parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    2. Adoptive Parent – A person who has legally adopted the student and whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    3. Custodian – A person or agency appointed by the court as the legal custodian of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    4. Guardian – A person who has been placed by the court in charge of the affairs of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    5. Caregiver – An adult resident of Howard County who exercises care, custody or control over the student, but who is neither the biological parent nor legal guardian, as long as the person satisfies the requirements of the Education Article, §7-101(c) (Informal Kinship Care) or has a U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) issued Verification of Release form entering into custodial arrangement with the federal government.

    6. Foster Parent – An adult approved to care for a child who has been placed in the home by a state agency or a licensed child placement agency as provided by the Family Law Article, §5-507.

  15. Promotion – The normal progression of a student from one grade to the next based upon successful completion of coursework.

  16. Report Card – Document that records the student’s grades, attendance, comments and other information.

  17. Retention – The act of continuing a student in a current grade based upon unsuccessful completion of coursework.

  18. School/Grade Team – A group composed of teachers, counselors, the school principal or other administrators, and other appropriate staff personnel.

  19. Social and Emotional Learning – The process through which students acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

  20. Special Education – Specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a student with a disability, including instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings.

  21. Unlawful (Unexcused) Absence – An absence, including absence for any portion of the day, for any reason other than those cited as lawful are presumed as unlawful and may constitute truancy.

VII. References

  • Title 7-301 State Board of Education; Subtitle 3., Compulsory Attendance

  • State Bylaw COMAR 13A.08.01.02 Lawful Cause of Absence

  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §1400 et seq.

  • Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794 et seq.

  • COMAR 13A.08.01.03

  • COMAR 13A.08.01.04

C. Relevant Data Sources

D. Other

VIII. History

ADOPTED: June 27, 1991

REVIEWED: July 1, 2012

MODIFIED:

  • June 13, 2019

  • September 2, 2021

  • December 7, 2021

REVISED:

  • June 10, 1999

  • May 25, 2000

  • June 14, 2001

  • July 13, 2001

  • January 27, 2005

  • August 23, 2018

EFFECTIVE: December 7, 2021

Policy History Key

  • Adopted-Original date the Board took action to approve a policy
  • Reviewed-The date the status of a policy was assessed by the Superintendent’s Standing Policy Group
  • Modified-The date the Board took action to alter a policy that based on the recommendation of the Superintendent/designee did not require a comprehensive examination
  • Revised-The date the Board took action on a that policy based on the recommendation of the Superintendent/designee needed a comprehensive examination
  • Effective-The date a policy is implemented throughout the HCPSS, typically July 1 following Board action.