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.

Reading Level

In language arts, for students in grades 1-6, the FCPS Progress Report will indicate if a teacher is using above grade-level materials, on grade-level materials, or below grade-level materials to instruct the student.  Kindergarten teachers will not complete this information.  The purpose of the Reading Levels on the FCPS Progress Report is to report on the level of the materials used to support a student’s instruction, not a specific reading level. Teachers use multiple assessments to mark this area.  Parents should be regularly informed about their child’s reading progress and the progress report simply documents information that has been previously shared.

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 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.

2020-21 School Year

Mondays have been designated as an asynchronous school day. Asynchronous learning means that students will be assigned tasks to be completed outside of class time without teacher support, like traditional homework. This may include independent or collaborative, online or offline assignments such as practice activities, readings, projects, research/analysis, flipped classroom activities, assessments, computer programs, etc.

As collaborative teams consider asynchronous assignments, teams should assign tasks they would estimate meet the following guidelines each week:

  • PreK-2: 150 minutes (2.5 hours)
  • Gr 3-6: 180 minutes (3 hours)
  • Asynchronous/homework tasks should be assigned only on Mondays
  • Time would be reduced for students participating in Monday intervention at the discretion of the teacher.

Extra Credit

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.

Takes responsibility for actions is demonstrated by:

  • apologizing
  • recognizing fault
  • using manners
  • demonstrating sportsmanship
  • understanding that personal actions affect others
  • safeguarding personal information
  • abiding by the acceptable FCPS Students Rights and Responsibility Handbook
  • safeguarding personal information

Demonstrates active listening skills by:

  • facing speaker
  • making eye contact
  • participating/responding when appropriate in different group sizes

Working effectively within a group is demonstrated by:

  • respecting the ideas of others
  • engaging with members in a group
  • taking responsibility for assigned tasks within a group
  • remaining respectful with non-preferred tasks and peers
  • utilizing available technology to work on collaborative projects

Resolves conflict effectively by:

  • using “I” statements
  • using words instead of actions
  • involving adults when appropriate
  • using strategies taught by teachers and school counselor

Identifies, pursues, and reflects on goals by:

  • making appropriate work oriented and social goals for behavior, academic achievement, and/or personal accomplishments
  • decide if the goals were met through reflection and measuring progress
  • showing resilience in the face of adversity

Following directions is demonstrated by:

  • following both written and oral directions in an appropriate amount of time
  • requiring an appropriate amount of redirection, based on grade level

Exhibits organizational skills by:

  • organizing work space
  • sorting materials for community supplies and using them appropriately
  • utilizing available technology to organize work and files
  • demonstrating effective use of personal space
  • understanding personal space for work areas

Completing assignments on time includes:

  • completing and turning in class work assignments
  • completing and turning in homework assignment

Uses time constructively is demonstrated by:

  • engaging in acceptable tasks after assigned work is completed
  • keeping social conversation to a minimum
  • 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
  • sharing ideas in a respectful manner
  • pursuing lifelong learning
  • communicating appropriately online and properly citing resources used

Demonstrates self-control by:

  • making good and safe choices
  • understanding that actions are a choice
  • understanding consequences and solving problems effectively

Follows established routine is demonstrated by:

  • making a conscious decision to follow the routine
  • adapting to a change in routine
  • bringing appropriate materials for different school settings