Letter from the Principal

Hello and Happy New Year –

One of the wonderful aspects of the traditions of new years is to look forward to the promise of the upcoming possibilities in a year that stretches before us. While 2020 thrust us into an unprecedented experience, we will build on the many learnings from 2020 and improve beyond what we can possibly imagine in 2021.

One of the improvements that we have been giving much thought and attention to for the past year(s) is our Equitable Grading Practices at Madison. We have shared the research and process of our grading practice shifts over the years in past Mad Memos. Recently, the School Board shared suggestions and policies for grading practices throughout FCPS. I’d like to share some of the ways that Madison has been out front on those policies and ways that Madison is continuing to revise our practices to meet the School Board policies.

School Board Recommendation: Establish 50 as the lowest grade on a 100-point scale

  •  JMHS has been working to transition from the 100 point scale to the 4.0 scale over the past four years. Over 90% of our teachers transitioned to the 4.0 scale in 2019, and all of our teachers and teams are using the 4.0 scale this school year. Our goal is to provide equitable and accurate grades to students about their progress, and the 4.0 scale creates the opportunity for both. More about the inaccuracy of the 100 point scale can be read about here .

School Board Recommendation: Allow late work (major assignments) with minimal penalty

  • The JMHS policy for late work is outlined in each course syllabus: Due to the constraints of Distance Learning there will be flexibility around assignment submissions. … Teachers and students will work together to determine reasonable protocols. Additionally, all teachers and teams are using the Rolling Gradebook, which provides more flexibility for due dates and late work, more time for students to demonstrate their understanding and knowledge over time, and multiple opportunities for assessment.

School Board Recommendation: Establish maximum weight of an assignment/assessment at 20%

  • The JMHS in-common grading categories (Summative, Formative, & Preparation) with common weighting across contents, and the Rolling Gradebook, ensure a balanced gradebook for students. Teachers, teams and administration collaborate at the end of marking periods to ensure that no one assessment counts more than 20%.

Teachers have also collaborated in teams, departments, and across disciplines to build on the Deeper Learning instructional practices we have engaged with as a staff and develop purposeful, balanced assessments during this time.

  • In English, teachers focus assessments on the eight essential standards, providing assessments that develop multiple standard strands so that students have fewer assessments while developing more skills.
  • In World Languages, students give creative oral presentations that demonstrate multiple skills blending art, culture, and language development.
  • In Geosystems, students create websites to synthesize essential content and skills to share with authentic audiences.
  • In World 2, students engage with performance tasks that blend both content and skills.

These are just a few examples.  We will continue to share Deeper Learning experiences and assessment examples in the upcoming Mad Memos.

Gregory S. Hood, Principal
James Madison High School
2500 James Madison Drive
Vienna, Virginia  22181
Phone:  703-319-2311
Email: gshood@fcps.edu
Website: http://www.fcps.edu/MadisonHS/