Elementary Grading and Reporting Handbook for Parents: Grading Guidelines

Grading Guidelines for Elementary School

Achievement Grades

Achievement marks will be reported on a 4-point scale and cannot be equated to letter grades. A grade of “4” indicates a high level of achievement; it communicates that a student has a strong understanding of all the concepts and skills taught for that standard during the quarter and can demonstrate understanding independently and with very few errors. When determining grades for students, teachers consider the most current assessment data as evidence of learning. Earlier assessments may no longer be relevant if students have demonstrated further progress. Content areas in which the student is not instructed will be marked with “nt,” indicating that the standard was “not taught.” This mark will also apply for students not enrolled in optional programs such as band, strings or world languages.

Marks in the “final” column on the progress report reflect the student’s achievement at the end of the year for that standard. This mark is not derived from “averaging” grades throughout the year, but reflects the level of knowledge and skills at that point in time. This is the column from which the grades for the transcript are generated. In many cases, the final grade will be the same as the 4th quarter grade. In some cases, a teacher will need to take a more holistic look at the entire year to determine the grade, particularly in the areas of science and social studies where the units taught from quarter to quarter differ greatly but align to the same progress report standard.

Classroom teachers will assign the marks for language arts, history and social science, mathematics, science, and health.  Specialists will assign grades for physical education, music, art, band, strings, and world languages. Sometimes a teacher will take a holistic look at the quarter or the year to determine a grade in art, music or physical education, because content in units may differ greatly but align to the same progress report standard.

The following further defines each grade on the elementary progress report:

4 - Consistently demonstrates concepts and skills of standard taught this quarter

  • Frequency of behavior, nearly all the time
  • Requires no support when demonstrating understanding
  • Demonstrates a thorough understanding of content taught
  • Makes no major errors or omissions when demonstrating concepts or processes taught

3 - Usually demonstrates concepts and skills of standard taught this quarter

  • Frequency of behavior, most of the time
  • Requires limited support when demonstrating understanding
  • Demonstrates a general understanding off content taught
  • Makes few major errors or omissions when demonstrating concepts or processes

2 - Sometimes demonstrates concepts and skills of standard taught this quarter

  • Frequency of behavior, some of the time
  • Requires moderate support in order to demonstrate understanding of concepts and skills
  • Demonstrates a partial understanding of content taught
  • Makes some errors or omissions when demonstrating concepts or processes

1 - Seldom demonstrates concepts and skills of standard taught this quarter

  • Frequency of behavior, seldom
  • Requires considerable support in order to demonstrate learning of concepts and skills
  • Demonstrates limited understanding of concepts, skills, and processes taught
  • Makes frequent major errors when demonstrating concepts or processes

In addition, a mark of “nt” may be used for a specific quarter in which a concept or skill is not taught or “na” when a standard is “not assessed” in a summative manner. However, it is expected that all skills will be taught and assessed for most students during the course of the year unless otherwise noted on the teacher alignments or the grade-level information for parents. Exceptions are students who enter the school later in the year or students who have extended absences throughout the school year.

Advanced Mathematics

If a student has received above grade-level instruction in mathematics during the quarter, it will be indicated on the progress report by a “y” in the first row in the mathematics section.

Above grade-level instruction is indicated when a student has been learning at least 80% of the concepts taught at a grade level above the student’s current grade level. The student who has been instructed above grade level is graded according to the content he/she is learning – not according to grade level expectations.

Important Information Regarding Advanced Mathematics

If a child gets a “y” in the advanced math area, is the grade based on the higher level math or the grade level math?

Students are graded on the content they are learning. If a student is instructed on higher level content, the grade is based on the student’s understanding of that content.

A student will be marked above grade level in math in one quarter but not another?

A student will be marked above grade level in mathematics if he or she has been instructed on above grade level mathematics content 80% of the time or more during that quarter. Since the content being learned varies quarter to quarter, it may not be appropriate to accelerate the content for the student all quarters, so above grade level would be marked “y” one quarter and not others.

Guidelines for Determining Effort Marks

The following should be considered when determining a grade for effort:

  • Participation: class discussions, group work, partner activities, attention and focus during activities, appropriate responses to student/teacher interactions, homework completion
  • Quality of work produced: neatness, attention to detail, completeness, grammar and spelling
  • Perseverance: task initiation, task follow-through, consistency, academic endurance
  • Receptivity to feedback: appropriate response to suggestions or redirection, positive interactions during student-teacher conferencing, implementation of peer/teacher suggestions

Homework and Extra Credit

Homework can be considered as part of the effort grade, but would not be used to grade academic achievement in elementary school since the function of homework is to provide practice in skill areas.

Extra credit can also be considered as part of an effort grade when the expectation reflects something other than the expected learning. Grades should reflect a demonstration of achievement of the standards.

Guidelines for Determining Life, Work, and Citizenship Skills

The Fairfax County School Board has established goals for students in the areas of essential life skills and responsibility to the community. In accordance with these goals, Life, Work, and Citizenship skills will be reported separately on the standards-based report card. Indicators to look for in considering the marks a student will receive in this area are outlined below. For some students, particularly students from other cultures, these skills may need to be explicitly taught.

Life, Work, and Citizenship Skills and Effort Levels:
4 – Consistently demonstrates 
3 – Usually demonstrates 
2 – Sometimes demonstrates 
1 – Seldom demonstrates 
na – Not assessed

These skills can be demonstrated by any/all of the bullets listed below each indicator. This listing is not comprehensive – teachers should communicate expectations to students and parents.

* Indicates direct correlation to Portrait of a Graduate skill

Takes responsibility for actions is demonstrated by:

  • Understanding that personal actions affect others
  • Demonstrating the ability to atone for mistakes
  • Safeguarding your own personal information and information of others. 
  • Abiding by the acceptable FCPS Students Rights and Responsibility Guidelines
  • Staying on websites that are just right for kids 
  • Identifying, evaluating, and using information effectively both on and offline

Demonstrates active listening skills by:

  • Participating/responding when appropriate 
  • Listening and asking questions to further understanding*
  • Respectfully listening to the ideas of others*
  • Pausing technology use when others are speaking; Pause for People

Working effectively within a group is demonstrated by:

  • Listening to and acknowledging the ideas of others
  • Engaging with members in a group*
  • Taking responsibility for assigned tasks within a group*
  • Utilizing available technology to work on collaborative projects*
  • Being trustworthy and responsible while collaborating in online spaces*

Resolves conflict effectively by:

  • Choosing proactive methods to solve conflict
  • Involving adults when appropriate
  • Using proactive problem solving strategies
  • Demonstrating the ability to understand and care for the feelings of others. 
  • Considering others’ values and priorities
  • Recognizing that situations can be complex 
  • Helping find solutions when problem arise*
  • Recognizing that individual actions may affect peers and the broader community

Identifies, pursues, and reflects on goals by:

  • Setting goals for behavior, academic achievement, and/or personal accomplishments *
  • Considering how different choices impact one’s ability to achieve the goal
  • Seeking help and/or using feedback to improve work*
  • Deciding if the goals were met through reflection and measuring progress*
  • Reflecting and learning based on previous mistakes
  • Showing perseverance*

Following directions is demonstrated by:

  • Following both written and oral directions
  • Utilizing resources provided by the teacher
  • Seeking assistance when directions are misunderstood

Exhibits organizational skills by:

  • Organizing work space
  • Sorting materials for community supplies and using them appropriately (face to face only)
  • Utilizing available technology to organize work and files
  • Creating and/or maintaining systems to keep track of information or materials

Completing assignments on time includes:

  • Completing and turning in assignments
  • Taking proactive steps to gain clarification of assignment in order to complete it
  • Planning for completing assignment based on time provided

Uses time constructively is demonstrated by:

  • Trying out proactive strategies to stay on-task
  • Initiating, working on, and completing tasks in an appropriate amount of time
  • Utilizing technology tools when available to increase work efficiency

Is a respectful and contributing participant in school is demonstrated by:

  • Respecting self, others, and property
  • Engaging in conversations and listening to others 
  • Communicating appropriately online and properly citing resources used
  • Sharing ideas in a respectful manner
  • Citing sources when borrowing ideas or resources from others
  • Informing a trusted adult when witnessing bullying behavior

Demonstrates self-control by:

  • Making safe choices*
  • Understanding that actions are a choice
  • Understands actions have consequences 
  • Engaging in problem-solving with peers and adults
  • Engaging in self-reflection
  • Evaluating possible impacts of actions
  • Considering other people’s point of view*
  • Considers the feelings of others when speaking or responding

Follows established routine is demonstrated by:

  • Engaging in the process to develop classroom norms (including a virtual classroom)
  • Adapting to a change
  • Following routines and procedures of the classroom (including a virtual classroom)