Grading Policies / Creating Student Grades

Hi everyone,
I’m so excited to begin teaching CSP! One of the tasks I still need to complete is the creation of a course overview document that describes course expectations, classroom norms, etc. I could use some help, especially from those that piloted CSP last year. How did you grade your students? I know that the Teacher Home Page / Dashboard can provide details about how students are doing, including a way to track pair programming. There are likely also other components of the grade (readings from Blown to Bits, other articles, perhaps some Ted Talk videos, etc.). How have you turned all of this into a grade for each student? I’m thinking about a point system, but I want it to be easy to do. Please share, as I’m sure I’m not the only one puzzling through this process!


I think grading is very context dependent. My school used “Product” and “Process” points. I tended to grade homework and some classwork as process at 10pts per assignment. I tended to give the projects 100pt Product Grades.

So basically, yes a point based system worked.

This year I hope to pilot mastery/competency based grading. We will see how it goes.


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thanks! I’m having a discussion with Administration about mastery/competency based grading. I could have an A, B, or Incomplete as possible grades. We have this for some non-AP courses at our school, and I think it works well for this course as well. Based on my roster, I expect lots of Mastery/A grades!

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I like the A/B/I idea.

Will you be using a tool to track mastery?
Are you thinking of tracking any socio-emotional skills or behaviors?

Thank you for sharing your ideas. I’m also new to CSP and would like to pick your brains.
I think the point system is a great idea and will definitely use it.

What would be a fair way to weigh assessments vs. projects and process points? Any suggestions?


Caroline, I think since this is my first time through, I’m going to back away from mastery by each CSP standard. I might, however, keep a high-level A/B/I approach. If they are missing too many assignments, then get an Incomplete until they have caught up. I think that this approach will encourage them to do each assignment and (hopefully!) be better prepared for the PT’s and the exam. I’ve until Wednesday to figure it out…

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Good question about point distribution! Let’s have a discussion. What if an hour of work was worth about 10 points? In my block schedule, they will have 90 minutes of class and perhaps 30 minutes of HW every class, so there are about 20 points per class.

So, I’m thinking that I’ll come up with 10 points for in-class activities and another 10 for the HW. Or some days, perhaps all 20 points for in-class. Or 15 and 5. Or a multi-day activity could be worth 30-40 points total. Lots of flexibility. Some activities have a rubric, so those would provide guidelines for points as well.

The large summative assignments such as the practice Performance Tasks or the chapter assessments might be worth 100 points. I haven’t thought through a retake policy yet.

I would rather spend my time planning than grading, so it isn’t likely to be that scientific. It wouldn’t take long to enter a set of grades each day.

Anyone have any thoughts to share on this topic? I would love to hear them!

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One thing that I used to help grade the lessons completed with a partner or group was participation points. If a student was absent, they could partner with another student to complete the lesson and receive the participation points. It is possible for a student to miss school and still complete the activity. I really wanted to honor and encourage collaboration. I really like your idea of awarding points based on “an hour of work”. This would make it so the students with no Computer Science background would have the opportunity to earn the “A”. Level the playing field!

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Does anyone have some other ideas for grading that would be equitable for students with various backgrounds in Computer Science?

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@will_wright also check out this blog by a teacher who is using google classroom.

I like the strategy!

Hello, I am hoping to revive a discussion of Creating Student Grades in a CSP class.

I am teaching CSP for the 1st time, mostly to seniors. In my school, most teachers have 3 to 5 grading categories, such as “Classwork & Participation”, “Projects” Test & Quizzes" etc. and each category is worth a % of the Term grade. However, I have been using Standards-Based Grading (SBG) in my other science classes, offering students a way to see their level of mastery on each of the science practices, or, before NGSS, on each content standard. Sadly, I don’t have a good enough grasp of the content myself to feel ready to do SBG, and am thinking of doing the weighted categories approach. Has anyone set up such a system for CSP that you think puts the correct % on each type of work? Ideally, since these are seniors, most of the grade should be about their mastery/summative assessments, and only a small % should be about effort. However, my experience with seniors in our school is that if they are not getting a grade for doing each piece of work, many of them don’t do all of it.


I personally do not use weighted categories for my grades (I’m at a competency based school) so I don’t have a great idea for anything that ‘works’, but I wonder if you might be able to leverage some colleagues within your school who know your seniors and could give you some idea of what motivates them. I also wonder how you encourage students to do homework in your SBG classes - do you have a similar issue where students complete the assessments to demonstrate mastery, but don’t end up doing their homework? If you choose not to give a ‘homework’ grade in CSP, how can you leverage that same type of motivation?

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Hi @mbrown6,

Before I took on CSP, I did my own take on SBG for my physics classes. When I started CSP, I didn’t feel comfortable applying that same philosophy to a course that was so new to me - but even more so, I didn’t know how I’d assess mastery when there was so much less “normal quiz” stuff and so much more “create a protocol!” stuff.

I mostly reverted back to traditional grading - points for completion, participation, etc. as well as quizzes. I felt most comfortable integrating an SBG approach with quizzes as well as the projects with rubrics - since rubrics align very well with SBG.

As for weighting, I did that, kinda. I have a flat point system. But I would weight an assignment by assigning it a certain number of points. If all my homework assignments were worth 10 points and I decided I want an upcoming quiz to be worth five times as much as a homework assignment, then that quiz would be worth 50 points. That allowed me a bit of flexibility in that I can make up weights as I went along.


Hello! I’m starting AP CSP this year and am at a mastery-based school. I’m having a hard time breaking down the lessons into specific overarching skills for students to reach for. I’m wondering what system you used at your competency-based school?

I have two sets of skills:

  • Cognitive Skills (problem solving, collaboration, problem decomposition, explanation of evidence, develop a solution, etc.)
    Each of these Cog skills is on a sliding scale: There are 8 rubric columns, by the end of Q1 I expect them to be at a 4 to demonstrate proficiency, by Q2 they need to be at a 5, Q3 is a 6, Q4 is a 7. Advanced is always one step ahead of proficient.
  • Course Skills broken in to categories (The Algorithms category includes: Pseudocode, Algorithm selection, Undecidable problems and Tracing Code) Each of these is on a 4 point scale

As I talk with folks who use a mastery/competency based system, I’ve noticed that the scope of the objectives everyone uses are widely different. I know folks who take each one of the EKs from the framework and turn it in to its own standard. Mine are a little bigger, with the assumption that if you can demonstrate understanding of the bigger concept then you have to use some “sub” categories. For example, I have a standard called Information Transmission Protocols with the following scale:

Index CSP Framework Objective Beginning Developing Proficient Advanced
5.2 CSN-1B & CSN-1.B Information Transmission Protocols I can generally explain how the levels internet work together to transmit information I can explain each level of the internet and explain how they work together to transmit information. I can explain each level of the internet and explain how they work together to transmit information using specific examples.

I can derive my own connection protocols on a set of requirements and existing structures
I can explain each level of the internet and explain how they work together to transmit information using specific examples.

I can derive my own connection protocols on a set of requirements and existing structures and identify potential limitations of my design.

I expect that in order to give a deep enough response to this problem, a student needs to be able to talk knowledgeably about TCP, IP, UDP, Packets, and DNS. In the day-to-day, I give feedback on what you might call the “sub standards”, then students have a knowledge check where they’re asked to respond to a more open ended question related to this subject. At the end of the unit, they have a project that will assess this standard in addition to others. In this case, my project is slightly different from the traditional project in that I ask students to choose of the unplugged protocols that they’ve developed thus far and expand on it. They also need to write about how their new protocol would fit in with other levels of internet abstraction. Projects include both Cognitive Skills and Course Skills, but the knowledge checks are only course skills.

Let me know if you’d like to chat about more specifics!


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Thank you so much for this thoughtful and detailed reply. My school uses school-wide outcomes and class outcomes, which I think lines up nicely with Cognitive Skills and Course Skills. Since my school works on trimesters, I am currently planning on teaching the first 1/3 of the course as a standalone. I am aiming to stop just before functions in unit 4 and pick up with functions in the 2nd third of the course. My current outcomes are: Data and analysis, networks and internet, algorithms and programming, variables, conditionals, and digital literacy. I got them from the CSTA standards associated with the lessons. One concern I have is that some these outcomes are very broad and are not necessarily tied to a specific skill. I think conditionals and variables are the exception. I’m wondering if you have any feedback on these outcomes: are they too broad? Should I distill something like Algorithms and Programming into something more specific? This course is being taught in a NYC transfer high school where many students have not been exposed to comp sci before and sometimes have academic delays/ special needs.

I feel like those make sense as categories. I wonder if you could create objectives/standards within them. For example, within my network and internet category I have the objectives:

  • Information Transmission Protocols
  • Packets
  • DNS (this is not a AP standard, but I still teach it)
  • Fault Tolerance
  • Parallel and Distributed Computing

I then give feedback on each of these. I feel like if I were to only give feedback on the large on (network/internet) there would both be too many requirements in each row (students would always be developing in that objective until the very end of the unit) and too little information to tell them what they actually need to work on to grow the skill.

I found it really helpful to make a KUD for each large ‘theme’ to help identify what some of the sub topics are. Here’s a website with some examples of what that looks like in different departments: In the Classroom - RINKEMA AND WILLIAMS

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Hey sorry for long delay but this was quite helpful. I’d love to see any further sub objectives you have for unit 3 and 4.

Also- here’s what I landed for outcomes for the first 1/3 of APCSP