In order for a student receive a grade for a class they have two requirements they need to meet. The first is the combined time spent in seminars and working on their independent projects must be at least 40 documented hours. Here is a practical example. If a student participated in a two week US History seminar and was present for all 10 sessions at 60 minutes each, then the students worked for 10 hours in that course. In order to earn credit for the class, the student would need to document 30 hours of PBL work. That work is documented through reflections and turned in to their advisor. The second requirement is showing master of at least 90% of a courses I Can Statements. This can be done in a seminar or done through PBL work.
We require 40 – 60 hours of documented work for each half credit class a student is enrolled in. That amount of time is about 2/3 of normal seat time and was chosen because even the most productive adults are rarely doing actual work 100% of the time. Documenting the work provides opportunities for structured feedback and minimizes the temptation to procrastinate. 40 hours is the low end and the high end is capped at 60 hours to keep students from spending too much time on one course while neglecting another.
Each course in our school district has associated learning targets, Common Core Standards, or I Can Statements which guide and govern the content taught in the class. This helps to maintain rigor and uniformity across different sections and give students an idea of not only what they are learning in the course, but what they should be able to do when they are finished with the course. Students must show mastery in 90% of a courses I Can Statements to be eligible to receive a grade for the course. Mastery can be shown through assessments that take place during a seminar or during the project completion process.
At Dottke we utilize standards based grading. Unlike a traditional grading structure, students are more likely to receive a grade for each I Can Statement rather than for a test or a quiz. This gives students and parents a greater level of feedback. If a student has B- at the end of the quarter, in a traditional grade book the only feedback given would be that the student missed out on about 20% of the points possible for the course. In a standards based grade book, the student and parent can see exactly which I Can Statement the student was deficient in and make arrangements to go back, relearn, and show mastery.