2420 Procedure – Grading and Progress Reports

The grade point averages for grades 9-12 will be calculated in the following manner:


A.  At the beginning of each school year, administrative teams will discuss assessment and grade reporting practices at a staff meeting. Topics will include, but not limited to, board and school policies and procedures, student assessment and evaluation research and best practice, and other relevant topics


B.  Student interim progress reports will be provided to parent/guardians at the end of each quarterly reporting period during the school year. For high school, these reports will provide the current grade for each subject in which the student was enrolled for that period.


C.  A grade that reflects the achievement of learning standards will be given in each subject for each of the reporting periods. The semester grades (quarter grades at Options High School) will be the only grade of permanent record that will appear on the student’s transcript. It will reflect the student’s attainment in the subject from the beginning of the course to the final day of the term and will be a cumulative grade as opposed to an average of the quarter grade reports. In year-long courses, first semester grades may be changed to reflect learning that occurs in the second semester.


D.  Grades and marks that are allowable by state rules† and that will be available for high school grading are listed below, along with their grade point value and credit status.

Grade Points Credit Non-Calculating Marks * Credit
A 4.0 Yes P Pass Yes
A- 3.7 Yes I Incomplete No
B+ 3.3 Yes NC No Credit No
B 3.0 Yes V Waiver No
B- 2.7 Yes W Withdrawal No
C+ 2.3 Yes
C 2.0 Yes
C- 1.7 Yes
D+ 1.3 Yes
D 1.0 Yes


*Nonnumerical marks are not included in grade point average calculations

† See WAC 392-415-050, WAC 180-111-040, and OSPI Bulletin B088-20



Grade Mark Descriptions

Grade Mark       Descriptions

P            Pass

        • Not enough evidence to warrant a D, but enough that it is not a NC.
        • Reserved for students with additional learning needs for whom traditional grading is not appropriate or in rare extenuating circumstances outside the student’s control.
        • Can be written into IEPs, 504s and ELL learning plans.
        • Requires administrator/counselor collaboration and teacher manual override.
        • Credit-bearing.
        • Does not contribute to GPA.

I             Incomplete

        • Additional evidence is needed to earn a course grade.
        • Incomplete is not intended as a final grade mark.
        • The teacher will provide a clear pathway toward completion.
        • The teacher will continue working with the student to support the collection of the additional evidence.
        • After the completion of the following semester, incomplete grade marks revert to NC unless the grade is earned by completing the plan.
        • Does not earn credit.
        • Does not contribute to the GPA.

NC         No Credit

        • Insufficient evidence of growth toward course expectations/standards.
        • NC grade does not earn credit.
        • NC grade does not contribute to GPA.
        • If a student receives an NC in a course required for graduation, the student will need to repeat the course for credit or earn credit through a credit-retrieval pathway
        • For a student who receives an NC in a course required for graduation and repeats that course for credit or earns credit through a credit retrieval pathway, the original NC will still appear on the transcript but is not part of the student’s GPA calculation. The new grade for that course is included in the GPA calculation and is also posted on the transcript.

V            Emergency Waiver

        • Designates credits waived due to classes impacted by the novel coronavirus disruption.
        • Requires administration approval, following WAC 180-111 and Resolution 2419 for the Graduation Requirement Emergency Waiver.
        • Does not earn credit.
        • Does not contribute to GPA.

D             D

        • Minimal growth and understanding toward course goals/standards.
        • Credit-bearing.
        • Contributes to GPA.

W            Withdrawal

        • The designation posted to a student’s transcript if a student moves to a different school during the term.
        • Does not earn credit.



E.  All assignments and tests shall be graded as soon as reasonably possible. High school teachers will routinely communicate students’ current achievement in a regular manner, at least once every two to three weeks.


F.  No single project, test, research paper or other assignment can have such a bearing on the student’s grade as to cause the student to receive a failing grade at the quarter or semester reporting date.


G. Grades are based on student learning and therefore do not include these two measures: student behaviors (including, but not limited to discipline, extra credit, timeliness, etc.) and attendance. Attendance will be reported separately.


H. High school students are discouraged from dropping a course once it has started. Placing a permanent grade mark on a student’s transcript for a course they did not take or finish should be avoided when possible and determined in consultation with the counselor and administration.


Students can request a schedule change or drop a class from the start of the semester through the 18th day and starting on the 19th day any requests for changes or to drop the course include:

  • Counselor working with an administrator, teacher, and student to determining if a final grade will be listed after this date.


Options for final grades

  • NC if necessary, based on lack of progress.
  • A-D quarter credit, if possible, with grade matching current progress.
  • A-D if considering semester credit because student is near the end of the term and there are extenuating circumstances.
  • W if a student change matches a withdraw code being used.


I. Recommended practices in assessment, grading and reporting are included. The list of recommended best practices for grading is not prescriptive and is intended as guidance for high school grading practice.


Bellingham Public Schools understands that developing accurate, bias-resistant and motivational grading practices across our system may require teachers to adapt and change their classroom practices. We will achieve this by fully supporting shifts in practice to match the beliefs and purposes of grading as stated in Policy 2420, including the following ten practices. Teacher content work teams will be supported in collaboratively developing shared essential standards for courses and the following grading practices will be encouraged and supported.

1)     Grades will be based on equitable practices

          Instead of extra credit, give students multiple opportunities to show mastery and allow students to revise past assignments that are not yet at standard to ensure that a student’s grade accurately measures                    current performance. Offering extra credit makes grades less bias-resistant because grades are influenced by inequitable factors, such as access to home resources.


2)     Grades will be based on learning, not behavior

Only grade a student’s academic performance and progress and use other methods to address inappropriate student behaviors. Grading student behaviors (cheating, late work, task completion, effort) makes grades less accurate because the behaviors do not indicate student understanding. Furthermore, grading student behaviors make grades less bias-resistant because school systems have historically treated behavior differently based on a student’s race and gender further disadvantaging male students of color.


3)     Grades will be based on summative tasks, not homework and practice

Instead of assigning points to homework and practice, provide ungraded feedback while students are learning a skill or concept, saving the grading for summative tasks (such as quiz, entry and exit slips, lab, exam, project, assessment). When homework or practice tasks are graded, grades are less bias-resistant because of the unknowns in the environment in which students complete their assignments, and they provide only a glimpse into the acquisition of understanding, not growth or achievement at the end of the learning process.


4)     Allow multiple retakes and re-dos

Allowing students to retake assessments and redo or revise past work is motivational because it teaches students that their task is to get better—not be perfect—and that quality work takes time, effort and reflection. Therefore, provide feedback that pushes the learning forward and helps the student focus on their own growth. Insisting that students revise work which is not yet at standard holds students to high standards and does not allow them to avoid the learning if they are willing to accept a low grade.


5)     Feedback will be provided on learning tasks

There is no reason to put points on every assignment that a student turns in. Grading only assignments that matter most is motivational because points inhibit student learning by distracting from teacher feedback. When students receive an assignment with both points and feedback, they tend to ignore the feedback. Instead, delay assigning points for an assignment during the learning as students complete necessary revisions and only assign points to assignments that are summative and provide an accurate assessment of a student’s current mastery of learning goals. Clarify that the purpose of assignments is for students to create and share evidence of growth and mastery toward the learning goal, not just to collect points for the grade.

6)     Encourage student self-assessment

Helping students self-assess their learning makes grading motivational because it includes student voice, perspective and agency. Provide students the criteria they need to assess the success of their own work: clear rubrics with success criteria, exemplars and worked examples. Then engage them in dialogue about the strengths and struggles of their learning. Consider incorporating self-assessments as a contribution to the final grade.


7)     Grade the work, not the timing

Lowering a student’s grade because the assignment was turned in late makes grades less accurate because grades no longer reflect student mastery of learning goals. Instead, accept late work for full credit. In order to avoid the rush of assignments at the end of a term, set mid-point check-in dates to review student work in its current state, recording a grade for the task at its current state and updating that grade as student work improves.


8)     Emphasize recent performance

Learning is an ongoing process; as students grow over time, we will see their abilities, skills and content knowledge grow as well. The performance of a student late in the term should not match their performance at the start of the term before they had developed the skills and knowledge they are learning. Teachers ensure the grade is accurate by placing more weight on recent performance that reflects student mastery at the end of the marking period, not at the beginning.


9)     Grades will be based on work submitted

Entering a zero for a missing assignment generates inaccurate data because of the significant impact of a zero on a course grade average in a traditional 100 percent gradebook system. A more accurate grade for missing work is to designate a non-calculating placeholder in the grade book to show the missing work. Another method is to clarify the level of performance or mastery that a student needs to show in order to receive credit, holding the student accountable for the learning without artificially reducing their course grade. For example, you may specify that earning a ‘C’ grade requires mastery of six of eight learning goals by the end of the marking term.


10)   Avoid averaging when making final grade determination

Grades should reflect students’ growth and development over time. When educators average scores, we treat the later, higher scores resulting from student learning as statistical errors; averaging thus artificially lowers our assessment of a student’s true abilities and understanding. In order to preserve the accuracy of grades, we need to avoid average scores over time. Instead, use all these recommended practices and consider a range of evidence to arrive at a grade that is more accurate, bias-resistant and motivational.

Adopted/Previous Revisions: 10/13/2021
Updated: 10/13/2021