Some Mason students will be saying goodbye to letter grades
There won't be any straight-A students in Michelle Kling's fourth grade class during the upcoming school year. That doesn't mean her students aren't just as smart as others, mind. Instead, it's a result of Mason Schools' decision to shift from a letter-based grade system to a number-based equivalent for students in fourth grade and under. The new system evaluates students on a range of standards for each project -- a first grader might be graded on her ability to write legibly and independently, for instance -- and assigns them a number for each of these standards. According to Kling, this helps her give more detailed feedback to help herself, her students and their families. "Plain letter grades just didn't give enough information to everybody," she said. "And it helps you as a teacher (to) really hone in on where each kid needs some help." Mason Schools chief academic officer said the change is also meant to address mental preconceptions parents and students might have about certain letter grades. "The reason for the shift, partly, is because we kind of have some old thinking about what an ‘A' is," she said. Fifth and sixth grade students will also begin to use a numerical grade system within the next several years, according to school officials. Students in grades seven through 12 will continue to use letter grades.