Skills for success grade implemented

A new grade known as Skills for Success will appear on students’ high school grade reports for the first time this year.
Public schools throughout Oregon are moving toward proficiency-based grading, which is based solely on academics and cannot include any behavioral conditions in the academic grade, as mandated by House Bill 2220.  However, many still see the value in attendance and meeting deadlines and want to see students held accountable for their attitudes and behaviors regardless of proficiency grading so Coos Bay School District administration is requiring Marshfield teachers to include a second grade on the report card called Skills For Success (SFS).

Principal Doug Holland Holland said attendance, for example, is very important if a student wants to get the most out of their education.

“We didn’t want to completely let go of the other things that we feel are important, like doing homework and showing up to class,” Holland said.

Teachers are assigning the SFS grade using a rubric which includes behaviors district officials deemed important to be a successful student and employee. For example, the rubric includes the development of a student’s social skills and their ability to perform work in a timely matter.

According to Superintendent Dawn Granger, other high schools are using a similar grading system with a second grade based on behaviors. Some schools may call it a different name, but it is based on the same idea, said Granger.

“Most of the high schools in Oregon have a behavioral grade as well,” Granger said. “The district has the flexibility on how they are dealing with it.”

Spanish teacher Mark Lorincz said he can see the benefits of the Skills for Success grade.

“It may take us [teachers] a few years to get rid of the bugs and truly figure it out. But it is important because colleges want to see the student’s social skills and if you have a good work ethic, along with their GPA and SAT scores,” Lorincz said.

Assistant Principal Bryan Trendell said the district has not figured out how the grade will look on the transcript yet, but believes colleges will take the SFS grade into consideration.

“Colleges will look at the student’s GPA and SAT scores to determine if they are going to accept them in their college,” Trendell said. “But if it comes down to two people, they might give it the student with an ‘A’ in the SFS grade over a student who may have received a ‘C.’”

Some students, like senior Lane Mitts, said the second grade should not really be there since the school is now using proficiency-based grading.

“I think that it kind of goes against the proficiency-based grading,” Mitts said. “If we are only being graded on tests, then it shouldn’t matter if I turn homework in or not.”

According to Lorincz, the SFS grade will motivate kids to do homework and show up to class now that it is a separate grade.

“Students will want to show up and give effort, but it may take them a while to realize this is actually important,” Lorincz said.