Equitable Grading Practices

SHS Grading Philosophy

SHS Grading Guidelines

Equitable Grading Background:

Over the past 5 years, beginning on Opening Day of September 2016, our learning community has engaged in extensive learning and conversations related to equitable grading practices. 

During the 2016-17 school year, teacher leaders engaged in a Book Study of, "Grading Smarter, Not Harder" by Myron Dueck.  In 2017 and 2018, teacher leaders and some teachers were able to attend a PD by Rick Wormeli.  Teacher leaders also looked at specific SHS data, including the discrepancy between final course averages and final exam averages (both local exams and Regents exams), as well as the number of students receiving grades above 100%. Staff continued learning and reflecting on their own practices during department meetings and faculty meetings. 

The focus of the October 2018 Conference Day was teacher discussions through "Grading Roundtables" where teachers shared the practices they had been learning about and how that had positively impacted their classrooms.  Small groups of teachers proposed grading pilots to implement some of the things they had been learning about and were encouraged to do so.

In the 2018-19 school year, an effort comment was added to the report card, modeled after elementary school verbiage (who use SBG style report cards).  

In January 2019, Mr. McCabe established a committee to evaluate the tradition of having a Val/Sal.  The committee recommended in April 2019 to move to a Cum Laude and Magna Cum Laude system, which will begin in the 2021-22 school year.

In March 2019, SHS teachers voted to adopt a consistent building grading philosophy beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.  

Throughout this time, Assessment, Blended Learning/Digital Conversion, CRE, SEL have been a focus for the district, which included extensive work on Learning Targets and the Assessment Cycle.  In 2019, Joe Feldman wrote, "Grading for Equity: What It Is, Why It Matters, and How It Can Transform Schools and Classrooms", directly correlating these initiatives.

In August 2019 and Feb 2020, Grading Smarter, Not Harder professional development courses for teachers were conducted, with approximately 20 new teachers engaging in these sessions.

In March 2020, the pandemic shifted our focus elsewhere, but also brought forward just how imperative these conversations and shifts are.  For some, this has been an opportunity to spend more time with family or embrace a new hobby.  For others, this has been a time of unprecedented stress, anxiety, and situational poverty, all of which have had significant impact on the academic needs of our students.

In September 2021, we introduced the DRAFT 3 Year Equitable Grading Plan to the building staff.  This plan was created by a group of 25 high school teachers and administrators.

In October 2021, all teachers at SHS spent 3 hours engaged in learning and discussion about Equitable Grading Practices.  They reviewed the DRAFT 3 Year Plan and explored the 3 Pillars of Equitable Grading.  All teachers were provided the chance to participate in the Equitable Grading Task Force and receive a copy of Grading for Equity by Joe Feldman.  

In October/November 2021, all departments engaged in follow up conversations with Mr. McCabe and Ms. Silsby, focused on what questions teachers still had and what adjustments to our structures and systems people felt like would be necessary to implement more Equitable Grading Practices.

Equitable Grading Task Force: 

For the 2021-22 school year, SHS has formed an Equitable Grading Task Force to continue learning and making recommendations about shifting grading practices in the building.  The Task Force members are listed below.  This group met 3 days during the year, November 30th, March 7th, and April 11th. 


  1. Cory Allen (Chief Information Officer)
  2. Katie Allen (ELA Teacher)
  3. Christina Beeley (ELA Teacher Leader)
  4. Angela Borrego-Chase (Spencerport Graduate)
  5. Kristin Cocchiara (Math Teacher/Content Focused Coach)
  6. Chris Crowell (Science Teacher Leader)
  7. Rick Hepler (Science Teacher/Content Focused Coach)
  8. JoAnn Krywy (Counselor)
  9. Katie Mason (Special Education/Academy Teacher)
  10. Sean McCabe (High School Building Principal)
  11. Justin Montois (Technology Teacher)
  12. Sara Moyer (World Language Teacher)
  13. Rick Mueller (Social Studies Teacher)
  14. Jackie Nentarz (PE Teacher/PE and Health Teacher Leader)
  15. Colin Nobles (Technology Teacher)
  16. Kristen Paolini (Director of Curriculum)
  17. Katherine Resch (World Language Teacher)
  18. Paul Resch (Academy Social Studies Teacher)
  19. Megan Sarkis (Parent/Higher Ed Representative)
  20. Erin Shaw (High School Assistant Principal)
  21. Rachel Sherman (Special Education Teacher)
  22. Jess Silsby (High School Assistant Principal)
  23. Melanie Thomas (World Language Teacher Leader)
  24. Amanda Van Huben (Special Education Teacher)
  25. Miranda Wharram-Santillo (Science Teacher)
  26. Ty Zinkiewich (Assistant Superintendent for Instruction)