FAQs – Assessment and Grades

We believe that students reach their fullest potential when they are in a safe learning environment, inspired to learn, challenged to go in-depth in their understanding by a variety of learning activities, coached by competent and engaged teachers and understand what is expected of them.  

faq1Quite often, we receive questions about how we manage assessment and grading.  Here is a list of the most frequently asked questions, based on the Swedish school law and national curriculum guidelines.  This list was complied by the VRGD staff.

  1. Is it true that if my son/daughter has an ‘A’ on every criteria except one criteria which is at an ‘E’ level that this will means getting a ‘D’ as a final grade?

What is required to reach E, C or A is outlined by Skolverket.  It is necessary for all the demands for the grade of ‘C’ to be filled for a grade of ‘C’ to be set.  If all the demands for E have been met and most of the demands for C a grade of D would be set.  If all of the demands for E have been met and most of the demands for A would be met a grade of D would also be set. So in this case the answer would be that the grade of D would be accurate.  However, at the end of the year the teacher’s take a holistic approach to setting a grade (“helhetsbedömning”) and may choose to re-test a criteria if there are uncertainties/discrepancies.faq2

  1.  How do I know a fair grade has been set? How do we work at our school to ensure “fair grades”?

All teachers at VRGD meet within their subjects to discuss grading, not just at the end of the year but throughout the year.  For example, a group of language teachers might meet during their weekly subject meeting to discuss the best ways to assess students in their subject, or to look over examples of work done by students.  VRGD is also involved in a collaboration with other schools in the northern part of Stockholm.  The chance to meet with other teachers outside of VRGD is an excellent opportunity for reflect and analyze the assessment and grading that takes place here.  In subjects with National tests, our teachers compare the results to their own grade and analyze why the results look the way they do.

  1.  How do you assess students?

At the end of the year, it is important for us to take into account everything that a student has produced throughout the year. We strive for a variety of assessment, at various time points during the year, to provide the best possible environment in which students can achieve their bests.

  1.  My son was ill with the flu and didn’t perform well on a large assignment.  Will this affect his final grade?

Our teachers aim for ongoing assessment throughout the year, and in a variety of formats.  We always aim to identify what students HAVE accomplished and what they do show, and not what they haven’t.  If your son did not perform well on an assignment there are other ways he should be able to meet the requirements for the course.

  1.  faq4My daughter has done well on all of her tests in Subject X, but didn’t perform well on the national test.  Will this affect her grade negatively?

A national test is one part of the entire course’s assessment.

Every test, assignment, oral report etc. is a chance to show a variety of criteria and at the end of the year the teachers take a holistic approach to what has been achieved during the year.

  1.  My son’s teacher in Subject X says that what he shows at the end of the year is more important that what was achieved during the beginning of the year.  But his Subject Y teacher doesn’t seem to agree!  Why?

Some courses, for example language courses, are what we call ‘process-courses’, where what is achieved at the end of the course is the most accurate representation of the student’s knowledge and skills, and the assessment that takes place towards the end of such a course may weigh more heavily.   However, there may be criteria that are tested at the beginning of a course that will still play a significant role in a student’s overall grade, even in a process-course.  In some courses, for example science courses, it is necessary for a student to show certain knowledge requirements from each and every part of the course.

  1.  My daughter received a ‘C’ in English, but she was close to a ‘B’.  Can she do any kind of ‘komplettering’?

At the end of the course we are required to set a grade.  It is possible to take a whole course exam after a student graduates to try to achieve a better grade.  This can be done at VRGD up to one year after graduation.  One test, which is equivalent to the whole course, is administered.  If the grade achieved is higher than the original grade the student may include the new grade as a ‘kompletterade betyg’ on her transcript.

  1.  My son doesn’t understand why he received the grade he did. What should he do?

Our teachers would be happy to help any student understand why a grade was set the way it was set.  Our recommendation is that your son starts by looking through the feedback he has received throughout the year, including the subject matrix in SchoolSoft.  The more he understands his progress throughout the course the better the conversation with the teacher will be about why a certain grade was received.  Keep in mind that once a course is over the grade is set.

  1.  What happens if a student does not understand a final grade after explanation in class? What is the process?faq5

step 1 – teacher informs student of results in written form (updated course grid)

step 2 – teacher (with a colleague if teacher wishes) meets with student (and a guest if the student asks for that – parent, mentor) to help the student understand their assessment

Teachers are not obliged to offer more than one written (in form of a course grid) and one “extra” individual meeting with a student

Any further discussion or questions should be sent to the school’s principal.

  1.  What does a written motivation for a grade look like?

written motivation for a grade is a completed course grid

  1.  Can I get a second opinion on my work?

Teachers at VRGD have a goal that students receive fair and equal treatment during the grading process.  Teachers plan assessments together, cross-grade, and study student examples systematically to achieve this goal.  If a teacher finds it necessary, they can always ask a colleague for a second opinion.

  1. When does assessment occur

ongoing, all the time

  1. What if a student misses an assignment/task – do they have to make it up?

The teacher determines if this is necessary.

  1. faq3What support is every student guaranteed?  What forms of support does VRGD provide?

Every student is offered mentor support.  Every student is offered group support – mattestuga, språkstuga, etc.  Every student is offered an open dialogue between student/teacher. Every student is offered Student Care support; VRGD media resource services; and ICT support.

  1. Does VRGD allow “retesting” if students want to show more?

The teacher in the course makes this decision based on the policy for each subject or if there is a specific Student Care concern.

  1. How do we value “in-class” discussions in terms of assessment?

In-class assessment can only be positive and add to the final evaluation of a student’s overall knowledge in a course.

  1.  What documentation is required?  How do we make sure students understand their progress?

Students are provided with continual formative feedback (most often documented in Google).  In addition, VRGD provides a 3 step summative progress check system supported by course grids (November, March, June).  At the end of a course, students can see a course grid showing their knowledge profile as it relates to their final grade.faq7

  1.  Do all students with dyslexia have the right to Student Care support?  (meeting a learning coach so many times a week)

No, not automatically they do not.  When it is determined that a student needs learning support a specific plan is developed for that student based on their diagnosis.   A comprehensive review of the student’s overall school situation is made according to (UBAS) is done by the Student Care Team.

The decision regarding learning support is based on academic, social and medical needs.  Students with specific diagnosis (dyslexia, ADHD, ADD, autism, etc) always have the right to compensation materials.  This can mean longer test times, verbal exams, audio materials, etc.  What works best for each student is based on the comprehensive review.

  1.  Isn’t it unfair that students with learning difficulties get extra time, flexible deadlines and alternative exams?

No, of course it is not.  Every student has the right to guidance, support and stimulation so that they may reach as far they can in their learning based on their own abilities.

VRGD has a specific responsibility for the students who for whatever reason have difficulty reaching the course goals in every course.  This is why we must, in some cases, adjust the learning environment.

faq10Do you have other questions that were not discussed here?

See Skolverket’s information about assessment and grading for more detailed information.

Or, write to us: info@vrg.se

 

 

About kristylundstrom

I currently work as Head at Viktor Rydberg Gymnasium in Djursholm. I am a student of learning. I am interested to see where it happens, when it happens, and how it happens. I am also a math and computer science teacher. I have lived in Belgium and in the USA. I really appreciate my multi-cultural environment - I believe it adds dynamics to our school.
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