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Futures LAB

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Grading at the Lab

Understanding Grading at Futures Lab

Updated October 2020

Target Audience:

  • Home campus counselors, teachers, administrators, and other service providers who may need to periodically assess student progress that includes attendance and grading in Futures Lab classes.
  • Current and prospective students, parents, and their guardians or caregivers.

What do we know about traditional grades and grading practices?

  • Grades tend to reduce interest in learning. When learners are told that something “is going to be on the test,” they are more likely to view it as a chore.

  • Grades tend to disincentivize students from opting in to challenging tasks. When the goal is a “good grade,” students are inclined to take on an easier task which gives them the highest probability of success.

  • Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking. Students recieving numerical grades demonstrate significantly less creativity.

Source: Alfie Kohn (1999) “From Grading to De-grading

But I get a grade on my transcript; how will that grade be determined?

Below you will find grading agreements that we have put in place to support external stakeholders in understanding student progress at Futures Lab.

  1. Students will earn a grade in all Futures Lab classes that will appear on their transcripts.

  2. Students at Futures Lab are primarily graded on our Essential Skills (Professional, Personal, Entrepreneurial, Engagement) + demonstration of hard or soft skills and products appropriate to their specific pathway.

    • The relative weighting of Essential Skills vs. Skills varies from pathway to pathway and class to class and will be communicated to learners and families.
    • Essential Skills will represent at least 30% of a learner’s final grade. (Example: Design Thinking learners are graded 80% on Essential Skills and 20% on Skills & Products related to Design Thinking; In Networking, students are graded 50% on Essential Skills and 50% on Skills & Products related to Networking)
  3. Teachers have autonomy in establishing class grading practices.

    • Practices will be communicated to learners and families
    • Teachers will post an update in Synergy at least every two weeks that reflects the student’s progress to that point.
    • A student will receive a letter grade at the end of each semester (a semester is one quarter for 10-credit classes and two quarters for 5-credit classes).
    • Over the course of the semester, there is a wide range of acceptable grading practices:
      • Traditional HS grading
        • 100-point scale
        • Weighed or “straight points”
        • Minimum grade is a 50%. (Why no zeroes on the 100-point scale? We’re glad you asked.)
      • Modified grading practices
        • Example: 4-point scale where 0 = F and 4 = A
        • Example: S/U/0
      • Other, holistic grading practices. In order to assure we are keeping stakeholders informed of the progress of each learner, this is reflected in Synergy as an “S/U” system. A final letter grade will be entered for each learner at the end of each grading period.
        • S = No concerns. The teacher is comfortable that the learner owns their learning. The learner…
          • Demonstrates regular attendance
          • Regularly participates in one-on-one meetings with the teacher to discuss current progress
          • Is either caught up on all class projects OR is aware of what they are missing AND has a plan to get caught up
        • U = Concerns. The learner…
          • Has not attended
          • Has not been responsive to Tier 1 / Universal interventions
          • Has been referred into the Futures Lab MTSS process