• 2018-2019 Standards Based Grading Letter

    Dear Vashon High School Families,

    Chemistry and Physics classes at Vashon High School will be updating their grading policy in an effort to make grading more informative, fair, and transparent.

    Why the change? Chemistry and Physics classes both cover many different skills and areas of knowledge that were not accurately reflected using the old grading system. Under the previous model, students and families were able to see in the grade book a list of assignments with scores and an overall grade for the course. However, that information was very basic and did not inform the student or the family how those grades were calculated. For example, under the old system, a parent or guardian might see in Family Access that their student received a C+ on a lab report, but would not see how that C+ was calculated. Students and families need more detailed information about the student’s learning.

    With the standards based system, parents, guardians, and students can easily see the student’s strengths as well as areas that need improvement. Instead of seeing a list of assignments and assessments, families will see the skills and concepts being covered and which assignments were used to measure those skills and topics. It also reflects the idea that many concepts and skills will be used throughout the school year. Students will be able to use this information to direct their studying and to prioritize their time and energy into the specific areas in which the most growth is required.

    Here is what will not change:

    • I am committed to the policy of review, revision, and reassessment. Students will always have an opportunity to demonstrate growth through reassessments.
    • In order to ensure that all students are receiving the same high-rigor experience, the Next Generation Science Standards will be used in all classes in addition to accelerated higher level standards.
    • Classes will still offer a differentiated approach to provide the best education for all
    • The new grading system will not change the eligibility requirements for athletic participation.
    • GPA will still be calculated in the same manner. Your student will still receive an overall letter grade for the course.
    • The new grading system will not be detrimental to the application and admissions process should your student choose to advance to post-secondary education at community college, university, service academy, or technical school.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q1: What will a standards based score look like?

    A1: Standards based scores are from 1 – 4 with 4 being the highest score. More complex assessments will involve scales and rubrics that students will receive when the assessment is assigned. Simpler assignments will be given feedback, but will not impact the students overall score in the class.

    Generic Scale for Standards

    Score 4.0

    In addition to Score 3.0, performance, complexity, sophistication, originality, in-depth inference, synthesis or application that exceeds what is expected to meet the standard. No major errors or omissions regarding content.

    Score 3.0

    No major errors or omissions regarding any of the information and/or processes: simple or complex

    Score 2.0

    No major errors or omissions regarding the simpler details and processes but major errors or omissions regarding the more complex ideas and processes.

    Score 1.0

    With help, a partial understanding of some of the simpler details and processes and some of the more complex ideas and processes.

    Score IE (Insufficient Evidence)

    Even with help, no understanding or skill demonstrated.

    Q2: How will the standards based scores be converted at the end of the semester?

    A2: Converting the final course standard scale score to a letter grade at the end of a semester:

    Standards Scale Score Range

    Equivalent Letter Grade

    3.51 to 4.00


    3.00 to 3.50


    2.84 to 2.99


    2.67 to 2.83


    2.50 to 2.66


    2.34 to 2.49


    2.17 to 2.33


    2.00 to 2.16


    1.84 to 1.99


    1.50 to 1.83


    IE* (insufficient evidence) to 1.49



    Q3: What about homework?

    A3: Homework can be a meaningful practice when it is generated by responding to the needs of students. Meaningful homework is short, frequent, and accompanied by feedback. It aims to reinforce learning, not to construct new learning. Homework is at its best when it is a way for students to practice their new knowledge and to expand their basic learning. Although homework is a useful tool for learning, it will not have an impact on their grades in the standards based system because it is a practice aimed at increasing the student’s capacity to meet standard.

    Q4: Uh oh, why would my student do the homework if it’s not part of their grade?

    A4: Students will receive feedback on their homework and I will track if it is being completed on time. Then if the student is struggling on their assessments it will give us a place to start from when looking for solutions that will lead to growth. I hope that just as athletes and artists need to practice in order to increase their abilities, students will recognize that the small amount of homework I assign is offering the same practice opportunities.

    Q5: I have more questions! When can I talk to you?

    A5: This is a big change and I completely understand that there will be many more questions. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me via email (ipipkin@vashonsd.org)


    Thank you for taking the time to read through all of these items, I look forward to working with all of you!