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Grading Policy: How are classes graded and reported?


The three over-arching goals of this district focus on the Whole Child, ensuring the development of students who are emotionally and physically healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.  Understanding the role that all types of assessment play in this development, teachers and administrators believe that by gathering and analyzing data from many kinds of formative and summative assessments, the teachers, parents, and the students themselves can evaluate student progress.  The primary purpose of our criterion-based assessments at SHS is to provide students with feedback that is consistent, correct, meaningful, and supportive. It is our goal to help students monitor their own progress, to determine ways they can improve, and to learn how to prepare themselves well for all forms of assessment.  We encourage students to set goals for their own growth as life-long learners, to reflect on progress in meeting these goals, and to assess their achievement of them.

Creating a balanced assessment system is in direct support of the identified SCSD strategic vision, as it promotes the ability of the District to provide a personalized learning experience for our students. The intended result is to collectively align resources to the learning needs of students, and this system is a critical part of our instructional program by providing information on how students are progressing toward achieving state and local standards. Together with standards, curriculum, and instructional strategies, the system addresses the fundamental questions of a Professional Learning Community.

Our work with standards addresses the question, “What do we want our students to know and be able to do?” Curriculum defines the experiences that are intended to reach the identified targets. Our instructional strategies are the methods that we use to differentiate learning experiences for students. Assessments are the threads that provide feedback for all involved in the learning cycle–students, teachers and parents–on how well the expected learning targets are being met. Assessments answer the question of “How do we know what students know and are able to do?” In addition, assessments provide feedback on our strategies to support all learners as interventions are implemented.

Types of Assessments

SHS believes that assessment takes many forms, from a quick, ungraded conference with a student to a lengthy research paper to a cumulative examination.  Both formative and summative assessments are valued and used to help students meet learning goals.  A balanced assessment system includes a combination of assessment for and assessment of learning. Formative assessment drives instruction and is an ongoing process at the classroom level, where student information is used to adjust teaching strategies. Students receive frequent and meaningful feedback on their performances, through such formative assessments as teacher observation, questioning, and non-graded class work. The focus of formative assessment is to determine what learning comes next for students.

Benchmark assessment occurs throughout instructional units. Information is used to identify strengths and gaps in curriculum, and instruction is modified based on student learning. Benchmark assessments are grounded in standards and provide valid and reliable feedback to students in a timely matter. Grade-level curriculum is refined if necessary, and teachers continually modify instruction for student groups based on their progress. These practices directly support the Personalized Learning component of the District’s strategic vision, and a major function of these assessments is to intervene with research-based instructional strategies to correct both individual and group student learning gaps in time to improve student performance on summative assessments (e.g., teacher-developed common assessments or commercial products, linked to state standards).

Formative Assessments: Teachers use these daily to measure student knowledge and experience in order to determine how to move forward with the content and the lesson.  These formative assessments exist in a variety of formats, from verbal conversations to written pre-tests, in order to monitor learning.

Summative Assessments:  There are many teacher-designed assessments that focus on both skills and content.  Teachers give an array of assessments at the end of a teaching unit or concept for the purpose of evaluating student learning.  These range from projects, portfolios, essays, and written examinations in order to measure the learning demonstrated by students.  Rubrics are used to assess subjective work; these are given out in advance of submission of the work to provide an additional level of instruction for students.

Data collection tools such as the performance metrics in our Learning Management System, Schoology, are used to gather information about trends and individual student strengths and challenges so that areas of concern can be addressed.  Teachers also use assessment to reflect on best practices and to evaluate the effectiveness of their own instruction.

Frequency: Assessment of Learning or Summative assessment typically occurs on an annual basis. Information is often used to evaluate the long-term success of a given curriculum. The overall focus of summative assessment is to identify how schools, districts, and states are progressing.

Assessment Accommodations:  Students requiring testing accommodations such as separate location, questions read, examinations in languages other than English, larger font, etc. will follow the guidelines outlined in our Inclusion Policy .  All assessments will be given in English, except when accommodations are required or when the goal of a class is to learn a language that is not English, as noted in our Language Policy.

Assessment Goals 

The assessment strategies identified above (Benchmark, Formative, and Summative) provide information at differing intervals and for different purposes. Each one provides an alternate perspective, and one cannot take the place of another. Together, they provide a balanced approach to assessment that informs decisions at the student, classroom, school, and district levels. In general, the results of summative assessments can be used to set goals at multiple levels of the educational system (i.e., school-, grade-, and individual student-levels).

Benchmark assessments can be used to diagnose strengths and weakness, adjust instructional strategies, and identify students in need of intervention. And formative assessments are most commonly used to provide specific feedback to students in relationship to student- and teacher-set learning goals. In the perfect assessment system, one would seek to balance these assessment purposes. The foundation would be a continuous array of assessments for learning used to help students learn more—to lead them up the scaffolding. In addition, periodic early warning formative assessments would help teachers see student progress in terms of standards mastered, revealing to them with greater frequency as to who needs additional help. And finally, once-a-year accountability tests would serve to verify the ultimate level of student success.

 Other Types of Summative Assessments:

  • New York State Regents Examinations are state-designed and state-mandated tests given at the end of the year.  Currently, there is a minimum of five examinations students must pass to earn their New York State Diploma.  These are graded by teachers in the school, but teachers do not score the examinations of students currently enrolled in their classes.
  • Students at Somers High School also participate in Advanced Placement summative assessments, designed and scored by The College Board. Advanced Placement (AP) Exams are norm-referenced, summative, standardized tests created by the College Board and administered in May.  SHS offers many Advanced Placement courses, all of which culminate in an AP exam.  The College Board scores these exams, which do not count towards GPA and are not recorded on student report cards/transcripts.
  • Somers students—as certificate students or Diploma candidates—take one or more International Baccalaureate summative assessments, designed by the IB. Internal Assessments are typically (with noted exceptions during the COVID-10 pandemic) scored by teachers and moderated by the IB, while External Assessments are submitted to and scored by the IB. International Baccalaureate (IB) Assessments are criterion-referenced, summative, standardized assignments, performances, and exams given during junior and senior year for students enrolled in IB classes. IB scores do not count towards GPA and are not recorded on student report cards/transcripts.

There are several ways that Summative assessments are used to inform future instruction:

  • NYS Regents Examinations: Teachers review the results and use information collected from the rubrics and, where applicable, the multiple choice performance to determine where extra focus should go for future lessons/students.
  • Advanced Placement Examinations: Teachers review the whole-school data regarding performance on the different areas of the examinations, compared with student performance locally and nationally, to determine where, if any, extra focus should go for future lessons/students.
  • International Baccalaureate: The DP coordinator shall, whenever possible, budget to order the Enquiry Upon Results (Category 2A) for all students for all subjects, as well as download the Internal Assessment feedback for all teachers. These, combined with an analysis of Predicted Grade accuracy, will be the basis of professional development and examination for all IB Diploma teachers two times per year (at the beginning of the school year and mid-year as we prepare students for assessments). The goal is for teachers to engage in reflection: What is working well for teachers and students? What needs improvement?

IB Internal Assessment: These mandatory assessments, prescribed by IB for students enrolled in IB classes, are graded by the classroom teacher using rubrics from the course guides provided by the IB on its secure website.  The scores will be submitted to IB for moderation in order to ensure fairness and consistency among all students taking these exams worldwide.  These assessments will include: major projects, oral examinations and presentations, portfolios, and lab reports. These will serve both as classroom grades that contribute to the students’ classroom averages and as assignments that contribute toward the students’ IB scores in the subject areas in which they are given.

IB External Assessment: Students enrolled in DP courses will sit for IB assessments at the end of those courses as well.  These examinations and papers are administered in May at the required times, and are sent directly to IB examiners for scoring.  Unlike AP examinations, there is no make-up date for IB exams, so students must take the test on the assigned date and at the assigned time.

Homework and Testing Policy: We believe that homework enhances and extends a student’s class work. The amount and nature of the work will vary depending on the subject, but will include reading, short and long written work, problem sets, projects, lab reports, and other types of assignments. Homework may used for grade-calculation, or it may serve another purpose, such as a springboard for class discussion. Several times per year, such as during the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur holidays as well as during Thanksgiving weekend, students are given “homework-free” breaks so that they may spend time with family.

Assessment Performance Reporting

Class Grades: Classroom teachers determine the final class grade for each student. Teachers typically include categories for determining marking period and final grades that include substantial assessments such as tests, examinations, projects, lab reports, and essays.  In addition, they include smaller assessments such as quizzes, homework, and participation in grade calculation. Teachers record these marks on Infinite Campus, which calculates the average immediately.  Students, parents, teachers, and counselors have constant access to this information.

In general, teachers use numeric marks for grade calculation and reporting.  Student report card grades are numeric.  The scale is a percentage out of 100, with 65% considered the minimum passing score.  Both AP and IB classes will be given a 6-point weight for GPA calculation purposes. The scores students earn on an IB examination (1-7) or an AP examination (1-5) are not used in the calculation of student grades and they do not affect GPA.

NYS Regents Examinations are shared on the student report card. Any student who fails a Regents examination also receives a phone call from either a teacher or a guidance counselor to advise about a course of action. These count for 10% of the students’ grade for the year.

Advanced Placement Examination scores are accessible through the College Board’s website, typically during the second week of July. These do not appear on student report cards or transcripts and it is the students’ responsibility to arrange for sharing these scores with colleges or universities of their choosing.

IB Subject Results: The IB DP Coordinator and the IB Counseling Liaison will provide students and teachers with the instructions they should use to access IB examination scores on IBIS one they become available, as well as the procedure for requesting that scores be sent to a college or university on their behalf.  Students who wish to re-take or re-submit an examination, or who wish to have a component re-scored should make these arrangements through the IB Coordinator.

IB courses and Diploma Candidate and Certificate status will be clearly marked on the transcript, but the IB 1-7 scores themselves will be sent to colleges when students elect to do so. Students will be given this form outlining directions for how to ask for results to be sent before they see their scores on July 6, or what to do if they elect to wait until after scores are released to students and teachers.

Communication with Parents

Somers High School teachers maintain an online gradebook through both Schoology and Infinite Campus, which are accessible to parents via their smart phones or other internet devices.  Parents can elect to view a student’s grade at any time.  Quarterly marking period grades are given, and parents access these through the Infinite Campus portal as well.  In addition to this electronic monitoring of student progress, when the need arises there is email and telephone contact between teachers and parents, as well as conferences with students, parents, teachers, and counselors.

Grading Expectations for Teachers

Instructions for report card grades:

  1. No quarterly grades of greater than 100
  2. No quarter grades of 64 should be allowed.
  3. No final grade of 63 and 64 should be allowed.
  4. No assignment of a letter grade (M, INC, P/F) without permission of the student’s Assistant Principal.
  5. No student should be given a grade of lower than 50 for the first three quarters of the year.
  6. An exception to point 5 is that a student who has not shown up to class or has completed virtually no work may be given a grade of 40 only after speaking with the student’s Assistant Principal first.
  7. Regents exam weight for all courses ending in a Regents is 10%. 
  8. Final exam weighting should be the same across all sections of the same course. 

Expectations for Late Work Submission

Students are expected to put in every effort to submit all assignments for their classes by the deadline established by their teachers. This not only instills good work habits, it also is tied directly to increased student learning. SHS has established this Late Work Policy to better address students who are having difficulty, as a way of incentivizing them to complete the work and demonstrate their learning. The policy is as follows: 

  • In order to receive full credit for an assignment, the work must be submitted by the stated deadline and meet the established criteria. 
  • Any work handed in late might face a point reduction in accordance with the teacher’s grading policy, but the grade a student earns on that assignment can be no lower than 50% as long as the quality of the work submitted meets the criteria established by the teacher.  
  • Any missing work should be submitted prior to the end of the specific learning event. 

Final Grade Calculation and Minimum Quarterly Grade *

SHS report cards are finalized quarterly. A student’s final average in a course is calculated as follows:

Semester Courses: First Quarter + Second Quarter = 80% with the remaining 20% comprised of a final exam or project

Year-Long Courses culminating in a state Regents exam: An average of quarters 1, 2, 3, 4 = 90%. The Regents examination appears on the transcript but is not part of the grade calculation for the year.

Year-Long courses that do not culminate in a state Regents exam: An average of quarters 1, 2, 3, 4 = 80% with the final examination/project making up the remaining 20%

To keep struggling students engaged in their learning and to motivate them to turn the situation around and have an opportunity to pass the course, SHS has established a low grade minimum for the first quarter of a semester course, or the first three quarters of a full-year course.  As such, the lowest score a student may earn for the first 3 quarters of a full-year course, or the first quarter of a semester course, is a 50, as long as the following criteria are met:

  • The student must consistently attend the course.
  • The student must have made a sustained effort to hand in required work.
  • Any student who has submitted no work will be given a minimum grade of 40. 

Course Specific Common Grading Plan

Every course team will complete a Course Specific Common Grading Plan, the details of which will be shared with students and parents.

Reminders to students: 

  • Remind students that the start of this school year will be an adjustment and we can expect some obstacles as we reacclimate to traditional academic expectations.  We all need to pay attention to our academic and emotional well-being and seek help when needed.  Remind students that saying something when a classmate or friend is having a hard time is equally important.
  • Review your classroom charter and expectations for interacting with one another
  • Review attendance procedures.  Remind students that they are expected to attend on a regular basis. 
  • Review your work expectations and deadlines for submission (end of class versus end of   day).  
  • Review your class grading for the year.  Remember:
    • Low Floor Grade
    • Regents Exams, IB Exams and AP Exams will be required this year. 
    • Final Exams, projects, etc., may still be required and should be clearly communicated with students.

* While the grading floor does not exist for Q4, teachers can still employ their own floor if they choose to do so.  The rationale for the grading floor prior to Q4 is to keep students motivated to work towards passing.  Grading floors also account for the mathematical imbalance of the 100-point scale, where the failure range spans from 64-0 (versus letter, 4.0, or other standards-based scales.)

Implementation, Evaluation, and Review of this Policy

This Policy will be reviewed at least annually by all teachers and administrators.

  • Administrators will bring the current Grading Policy to the curriculum leadership meeting each winter to consider changes in practice or policy for the upcoming school year.
  • Department leaders will collect feedback from their teams, which will be used to remind teachers of current practice, as well as to elicit feedback for modifications and updates.
  • This feedback will be brought back to the leadership team (department leaders, IB coordinators, library media specialist, technology coordinator, and administration), who will evaluate and implement teacher feedback and make revisions to the policy.
  • Department leaders will share this new iteration with teachers.
  • Students and families will learn about these revisions at the start of each school year both from the Administration via parent communication (Parent Square, Open House Night, Curriculum Nights, PTSA Meetings) as well as through teachers’ course syllabi. 
  • Beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, SHS will be creating a cohort of teachers to lead the work in training faculty to implement an evidence-based grading framework over the next few years, spearheaded by the Social Studies curriculum leader. We anticipate this will have significant implications for our grading policy over the coming years, and we will update this document to reflect current practice as it evolves. We are currently in the exploration phase.
  • As part of our New Faculty Orientation program, recently-hired faculty members will learn about and read our policy for assessment and grading.


This policy was last updated in December 2021 by the IB DP Coordinator, Alison Scanlon, as well as the SHS Administrative team—Mark Bayer, principal, and Pete Rodrigues and Karime Flores, Assistant Principals, with input from the SHS Leadership Team:

Erin Stewart, MYP Coordinator
Elizabeth O’Shea, English Language Arts Department Leader
Tara Kearns, Social Studies Department Leader
Monica Martell, World Language Department Leader
Chris Pietris, Science Department Leader
Deb Hendrie, Mathematics Department Leader
Terry Reynolds, Music Department Leader
Angela Holder, Fine Arts Department Leader
Matt Ridgeway, Alternative High School Department Leader
Steve Carroll, Physical Education Department Leader
Colleen DeRenzis, Special Education Department Leader
Christine Drysdale, Library Media Specialist
Mary McEwan, Building Technology Leader
John Fleck, IB Counseling Liaison and College and Career Center Counselor
Dean Schuler, HL History Teacher