Grading and Reporting Plan to Begin in July

January 23, 2004
A five-year plan for implementing a revised grading and reporting policy for the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will begin in July 2004. Components of the implementation, approved by the Board of Education on January 13, include a professional development plan, professional development schedule, and specific deliverables for each year of the plan. The Board resolution also called for the superintendent to identify critical path elements for implementation in elementary, middle, and high schools and begin regular reporting to the Board in May.

In a related decision, the Board voted to postpone action on a separate attendance policy until relevant information is available.

Phased-in implementation of Policy IKA, Grading and Reporting, will begin with the 2004-05 school year, with grades reflecting academic achievement. Nonacademic information (learning skills) such as effort and behavior will be reported separately. In 2005-06, the policy will be completely implemented with grades reported based on specific expectations set for grade level (K-5) and courses (6-12).

During subsequent years, through 2008-09, new or revised report cards will be developed and implemented. At every stage of the five-year implementation, professional development, systemwide communication, and outreach to parents and students are planned.


The Board approved the revised policy on Grading and Reporting on March 24, 2003, to ensure consistency of grades within and among classrooms and schools and congruence of grades with standards-based curriculum. The policy provides the foundation for a grading and reporting system that provides meaningful feedback to students, parents, and the school system.

On September 9, 2003, the Board postponed implementation of the revised policy in response to concerns raised about the initial implementation, which revealed that practices had diverged from expectations found in the previous policy and regulation. Confusion also existed related to the meaning of a grade and what can be included in a grade. Questions were raised about homework, participation, effort, and extra credit.

At the September meeting, the Board directed MCPS staff to work with stakeholders to develop a multiyear plan that aligns implementation with curriculum revision, development of new report cards, procedures for students with disabilities and English language learners, professional development, and parent and student outreach. The delay maintained the preexisting grading and reporting policy and regulation, last revised in 1993 and 1996, respectively, as the governing documents for the 2003-04 school years.

The development process

Over the past several months, the Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs (OCIP) has coordinated a communication and planning structure that involves all stakeholders. In collaboration with the offices of Staff Development, School Performance, Student and Community Services, and Global Access Technology, an extensive communication campaign was mounted.
OCIP staff created three committees -- advisory, implementation and development -- that have been meeting monthly to identify stakeholder concerns and develop a plan for implementing the policy.

The school system also has consulted with experts in standards-based reporting, reviewed current literature, and participated in seminars conducted by leaders in the field.

Implementation plan

According to the revised policy, the meaning of a grade has two important aspects. First, the policy states that a grade is an "accurate reflection of student achievement." Second, the policy states that reported achievement is "compared to grade-level or course expectations."

During 2004-05, MCPS will begin implementing the achievement-only, or academic, meaning of a grade. This means that in Grades 1-12, grades will be based on academic performance and will not include nonacademic (learning skills) areas.
Other information about learning skills such as effort and behavior will be reported separately on report cards. The information about learning skills will be supported by system-sanctioned rubrics used by teachers with their students.

The grade level/course expectation aspect of the policy -- standards for the grade level or course in which a student is enrolled or assigned -- will be implemented starting in 2005-06. This will include procedures, to be developed in 2004-05, for students needing instructional adjustments.

At its January 13 meeting, the Board also accepted the recommendation that students receiving special services, including special education, English as a Second Language, 504 plan, or gifted and talented students, receive adjustments to their reporting based on specific needs.

An indication of adjustment to standards, assessments, or performance criteria will appear on a report card, as needed. These adjustments will be determined by a school team in advance of instruction and in consultation with parents. Students will be graded according to the adjusted standards, and their level of performance in reading and math will be indicated on their report cards.

Implementation schedule

Following is the schedule for roll-out of the policy implementation and reporting system:

§ Develop rubrics for learning skills (nonacademic indicators).
§ Partial policy implementation, Grades 1-12 (academic meaning of grade).
§ Report learning skills (nonacademic indicators).
§ Develop procedures for identified populations.
§ Develop Grades 1-2 report card.
§ Complete policy implementation, Grades 1-12 (grade level/course expectation).
§ Implement procedures for identified populations.
§ Implement Grades 1-2 report card.
§ Develop Grades 3-5 report card.
§ Implement Grades 3-5 report card.
§ Develop Grades 6-8 report card.
§ Implement Grades 6-8 report card.
§ Develop Grades 9-12 report card.
§ Implement Grades 9-12 report card.

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