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Grades - Elementary

Understanding grading practices will help parents know how students are doing in school.

Grading practices have changed since most parents were in elementary school. Many school districts in Oregon, including Salem-Keizer, now use proficiency grading (also called proficiency scoring) to report student progress.

Proficiency Grading in Salem-Keizer elementary schools [English, PDF]

Proficiency Grading in Salem-Keizer elementary schools [Spanish, PDF]

Proficiency Grading in Salem-Keizer elementary schools [Russian, PDF]

Proficiency Grading in Salem-Keizer elementary schools [Chuukese, PDF]

How It's Different

Proficiency scores can’t be compared to the traditional letter grade system many parents are familiar with.

Traditional letter grades show a student’s performance on a list of tasks, such as homework, quizzes, participation, tests, etc. It compares students against a classroom average or a percentage range, but it doesn’t show if a student is learning what they need to learn every year to stay on track.

Proficiency scoring does.

Proficiency scores show how much a student has learned in relation to an end-of-year standard. It also shows how much further they have to go before they meet the standard.

In a proficiency-based grading system, grades are based on progress toward achieving year-end content standards. For this reason, proficiency grading is sometimes referred to as “standards-based grading.”

How It Helps

Because it shows progress toward standards, proficiency scoring helps increase student learning. It helps teachers find gaps in learning and focus instruction in those areas.

It’s a way for teachers to individualize instruction and meet each student’s unique needs, and allows each student to make progress toward the year-end learning goal at a pace that matches their individual learning style.

How It Works

Proficiency scores at the elementary level are reported on a scale of 1 to 4. A score of 3 means the student has mastered a standard, or reached proficiency.

This scale shows academic proficiency levels.
4 Exceeds proficiency at grade level
3 Proficient at grade level
2 Developing proficiency at grade level
1 Limited proficiency at grade level

The goal is for students to reach at least a score of 3 (proficient) by the end of the school year after all instruction about a standard has been given.

Classroom behavior, homework performance, tardiness, etc., are still important measures of student performance, and they are reported separately from proficiency scores. They are shown on the elementary progress report as “characteristics of successful learners.”

This scale is used for characteristics of successful learners, and some academic areas.
E Excellent/Consistently Demonstrates - Needs little/no support, displays confidence
S+, S, S- Satisfactory/Regularly Demonstrates - Needs some support, showing progress
AC Area of Concern - Showing limited or no progress
X, Blank Not applicable at this time

If you would like to learn more about proficiency grading, please contact your child’s teacher.