It is with great sadness that we now share our last farewell to Karl Steinkamp, whose legacy is deep and unforgettable here at Dalat.

During Open House, Shawna Wood, Head of School, mentioned we will be shifting our grading practices to “standards-based grading” over the next couple of years. This approach to grading is research-based and designed to provide a more accurate picture of a student’s progress in school.

So, what is standards-based grading? Standards-based grading assesses and reports a student’s performance based on specific learning standards or objectives. Instead of receiving a traditional letter grade like an “A” or “B,” a student’s performance is measured against individual standards or skills. These standards align with what the student is expected to learn in their grade or course.

The truth is that Dalat has been on this journey for several years because we acknowledge that the current grading system is broken. A renowned educational researcher, Robert Marzano, wrote, “Grades are so imprecise that they are almost meaningless.” We recognize that, in general, the traditional grading system is:

  • Inconsistent from teacher to teacher and from school to school
  • Inaccurate and includes behaviors/averages instead of reflecting what students know
  • Not learner-focused but results/points-focused
  • Not meaningful, it does not provide insights into learning gaps
We have asked how a single letter can describe a complex learner, and we agree it is impossible. Our mission, “education for life”, relies on fostering curiosity. However, traditional grading erodes the joy of continuous learning. Therefore, we must transition to standards-based grading to preserve students’ enthusiasm and ensure consistent, accurate feedback on educational objectives.

There are several benefits to standards-based grading:

  1. Standards-based grading provides a clearer understanding of students’ strengths and growth opportunities.
  2. Teachers will provide regular and detailed feedback on standards, helping your child take ownership of their learning.
  3. Standards-based grading encourages student development and improvement.

In conclusion, standards-based grading provides a more accurate, fair, and informative assessment of student learning. Watch for more information about upcoming parent meetings regarding this critical transition. Your cooperation and feedback are essential, and we look forward to partnering with our Dalat parents.

Remember, every child is unique, and standards-based grading will help us celebrate their individual achievements and cultivate a love for learning. 

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