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New grading system coming for Iowa students, teachers

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SOLON — Officials at Solon High School are preparing to enter a third year of standards-based grading. It’s a system that’s catching on across Iowa.

The system grades students only on assessments, like tests, quizzes or projects. Assessments don’t include homework or extra credit, so students must demonstrate their knowledge through those assessments in order to achieve passing grades.

“They have to show they’ve learned [the material],” said Kelli Roskopf, a math teacher at Solon High School. “If they’re not doing the practice, if they’re not engaged in the classroom activities, they’re not going to score very well.”

Principal Nathan Wear said the system has only improved since being implemented in 2012.

“We’ve seen test scores improve,” Wear said. “This year Solon was included in U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s top high schools.”

Assessments can be retaken if a student feels they’ve improved in an area of study, Roskopf said. Students are often given a time limit to retake assessments to prevent students from attempting to retake the majority during the final days of a semester.

The Cedar Rapids Community School District plans to introduce a similar system for middle school students by the 2015-2016 academic year. They hope to introduce the system at the high school level in the fall of 2016.

Officials with the Iowa City Community School District said they don’t have plans to implement such a system for secondary students in Johnson County at this time.

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