Alliance College-Ready Middle Academy 4

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School Policies » Grading Policy

Grading Policy

Mastery Learning

Mastery learning is a research-based instructional strategy that has demonstrated significant positive effects on student achievement. Mastery learning is also a means of motivating students to be accountable for their own learning.


A good analogy for [mastery learning] is the road test that is required to receive a driver's license. What if, before getting your driver's license, you received a grade every time you sat behind the wheel to practice driving? What if your final grade for the driving test was the average of all of the grades you received while practicing? Because of the initial low grades you received during the process of learning to drive, your final grade would not accurately reflect your ability to drive a car. In the beginning of learning to drive, how confident or motivated to learn would you feel? Would any of the grades you received provide you with guidance on what you needed to do next to improve your driving skills? Your final driving test, or summative assessment, would be the accountability measure that establishes whether or not you have the driving skills necessary for a driver's license—not a reflection of all the driving practice that leads to it. (Garrison and Ehringhaus 2008)


Some key aspects of mastery learning include:

  • Learning objectives are transparent from the first day of a unit and on each assignment.
  • Students have opportunities to track and reflect on their progress.
  • Formative assessments are NOT included in academic grades because these assessments are opportunities for students to practice. Grades for formative assessments should still be entered into the online gradebook so students and parents can track student progress in class.
  • Summative assessments are the primary factor in academic grades.
  • Summative assessments that address various learning styles are used
  • Behavior, attendance, participation, effort, and work habits are NOT included in academic grades.

Academic Grades

Using Pinnacle, teachers will input scores for each standard and/or cluster of standards taught. Final academic grades are calculated using the Alliance-wide grading scale:



Rubric Range








1.99 and below


What final academic grades mean




ADVANCED – Student has advanced and detailed understanding beyond the standard and can apply complex ideas and processes to the standard.


Student understands all the skills and concepts important to and beyond expectations of the standard.


PROFICIENT – Student has a complete and detailed understanding of all information importation to expectations for the standard.


Student understands the skills and concepts important to the standard with no significant errors.


BASIC – Student has a complete understanding of the information important to the standard but not in great detail.


Student has an incomplete understanding of the standard and/or misconceptions about some of the information important to the standard.

1.99 and below

BELOW/FAR BELOW BASIC – Even with help, student demonstrates no understanding or skill – OR – insufficient work to judge higher.

Extra Credit

There is no extra credit at ACRMA4. Students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of standards and clusters of standards, but this is different from “extra credit.”


Life/Work Skills Grades

Teachers will assign life/work skills grades for Behavior, Working in Groups, Participation, and Work Completion. Teachers are expected to update life/work skills grades on a regular basis. Life/Work Skills grades are not calculated as part of the class grade but do give students and parents valuable information.

Makeup Assignments for Absences

Students with excused absences must be given the opportunity to complete the missed classroom work, homework, or tests with other equivalent assignments and must be given credit equal to what they would have received on the original assignment or test for the same quality of work. Students should be allowed the same number of days they were absent to make up any missed work.


Students who have been suspended from a class may be required to complete assignments or tests missed during the suspension if the assignments and tests can be reasonably provided. The teachers will determine what, if any, assignments may be made up and in what period of time.


Late Work

Students who miss or are late submitting summative assessments can be given an opportunity to re-submit their completed assessments within a clear time interval (e.g., one week) determined by the teacher. An alternative to allowing late work is that students will need to demonstrate their proficiency in the assessed standards or clusters of standards in future units or on alternative assessments.


If late work is accepted, it should be graded as any other work would be graded. In other words, there is no grade penalty assessed for being late.


Retake Opportunities

A key principle of mastery learning is that students are given multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of the standards. Students should be given an opportunity to retake summative assessments within two weeks as long as they are provided with additional feedback and instruction on standards in which they performed poorly.