Standards-based grading scale enriches student's education

By SaJHS Spartan Chronicle Staff Writers


  Salem Junior High School (SaJHS) is on the forefront of education in the Nebo School district by implementing a standards-based grading scale schoolwide this year. According to Suzanne Kimball, SaJHS principal, the grading scale will put more emphasis on what the students know. “Teachers, students, and parents will be able to assess more clearly which concepts the students has mastered and which ones the student needs to work on,” said Kimball. “This is the dream for education.” The year’s first SaJHS Spartan Target Conference will be held November 7 from 3:15 to 8 p.m. where parents and students will be able to meet together and discuss the student’s first term proficiency scores.

  One of the biggest changes with the grading system is that a very high percentage of a student’s grade in each subject is based on their assessment scores. However, students are allowed to retake “I Can” assessments. This allows students to reflect on their performance, relearn material they missed, and improve their knowledge and assessment score. “I think it’s a brilliant system. We are putting the emphasis on what matters-- student learning and proficiency,” said Amy Huhtala, English teacher. “Not only does this grading scale emphasize proficiency, but it motivates teachers to ensure a viable curriculum. It helps focus our teaching to ensure we are teaching exactly what our students need to know,” said Huhtala.

The second part of the grading scale is a 4-point assessment system. Instead of a point value and percentage being assigned to each assessment, teachers will use 1,2,3, or 4 to indicate proficieny level (see graphic at right for explanation).

The new grading system has caused mixed reactions among faculty and students at SaJHS. Mrs. Hales, math teacher said, “I think it’s a new, great system. It’ll give both parents and students a perspective of where the students stand in the classroom.” However, 8th grade student Kenny Cannon feels that it will only help certain students. Ninth grader Mackenzie Henderson claims, “I don’t like it. The percentages for the test really scare me.” Eighth grader Bryce Black states, “With this scale, we have to focus more on our test scores in hopes that we can pass the 8th grade.”“This whole new grading scale is meant to push students to be better.” Mrs. Brooksby, choir teacher.

Kimball states, “One of the most beneficial things about this change is that students will students will be able to look specifically at where they are excelling and pinpoint the areas where they need to learn more. Kimball elaborates, “Some students complain that they are bad at a subject, but now they can actually see exactly which part of that subject they are failing.” Mrs. Halcrow, history teacher and school counselor agrees, “From every angle, it is a benefit for every student. “This grading system will help the students feel better about themselves, learn more, get better grades, and feel more accomplished at the end of the year.”

Students are encouraged to keep track of their scores on assessments by checking SIS and seeking help from teachers during olympic time. Kimball stated that each department should hold a subject-level study hall and a reteaching session each week. Most departments will also provide a test retake classroom during olympic time. Kimball encourages students to be proactive when determining where they should go for olympic time. "Students are in charge of their own learning.  They are capable to seeing where they need help and seeking out and, in some cases, being directed, to the reteaching areas they will need for improvement."

In an effort to help students and parents understand the new grading system, SaJHS held a back-to-school night on September 5. Parents and students were able to meet with teachers and the administration hosted a question and answer session in the cafetorium. “We have developed a brochure to help clarify our procedures and vision along with copied articles for anyone interested in more information,” Kimball explained.



First Dance of New School Year

Having fun at the dance!!

The Student Council sponsored the first dance of the year on Aug 29. It was a big success. We had great attendance and everyone had a fun time! Thanks to the Student Council for all their hard work!!

Welcome Back to School!

Welcome Students!!

Welcome back to school and a special welcome to all of our new students!!

We are looking forward to an exciting new year at Salem Junior High School!

On Aug 29 we will have an Ice Cream Social provided by the PTA from 6:00 - 7:00 pm. Please come and bring your families! 

We will have our first dance also on Aug 29 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm. This is sponsored by the Student Council and there will be no charge for this dance. Come and have a great time! (Please remember that the dress code for dances is the same as the dress code for school.)

Spartan Time Capsule

Brad Dayton
Time Capsule 05_24_2013.jpg

Salem Junior High School's first year has been a great year! Thank you to all our students, parents, faculty, and staff!  To commemmorate our first year, a time capsule was filled and buried, to be opened in 25 years.  Visit for video and pictures.

SaJHS Time Capsule

Student Council explaining the time capsule
Mrs. Kimball showing the time capsule
Mrs. Kimball placing the time capsule

On the last day of school, May 24, we placed a time capsule in the front of the school. The Student Council did a fantastic job organizing this activity. They placed various items in the time capsule including a yearbook that many students signed, the ribbon from the Ribbon Cutting ceremony, and other items from our first year. The time capsule will be opened in 25 years!! Hopefully, many of the students will be able to return to see the opening!

Les Mis Performance a Success!!

Bailey Holdaway and Abby Workman
Jackson Badger performing at Les Mis concert

For more than one year the teachers of the band/orchestra, choir and drama departments of Salem Jr High School and Mount Nebo Jr HIgh School have been working on preparing for this night.  They have worked so hard to be ready for these two nights. With Rachel  Brooksby,  Jana Lee Stubbs, Laura Turner, Rock White, and Kaitlin Brady putting the whole thing together.  There were over 500 students participating each performance night.  Also there were a total of 25 songs that most of the students had to memorize.  Monday May 20, 2013 was Mt. Nebo’s actors to take center stage.  Then on Tuesday May 21, 2013 the Salem Jr. High schools actors to be in the spotlight.  The performance was spectacular and entertaining, and ended wonderfully. Everyone in the audience loved the performance by the students.  The actors were amazing, and so were the background choir, orchestra, and band participants.  Thank you to everyone who participated in this event.

Lagoon Day!

Sadie Johnson
Having fun at Lagoon!

May 17th our school had the opportunity to go to Lagoon. Our school had to take eleven charter buses just so we could get there. We loaded the buses around eight and got to Lagoon around ten. Everyone unloaded the buses and ran for the park entrance, eager to ride all of the rides. We all got through the gates and ran to try to be the first ones in line. While there, Wicked was the most popular. Everybody ran to that ride first since the line seemed to be the longest. After everybody enjoyed the rides we all sat down to grab a bite to eat. After we all stuffed ourselves, we decided to go on some more rides before we had to leave. Everyone started to head back to the buses when the trip had come to an end. We once again loaded the buses and started to head home. All of the students began to doze off on the way back to the school. We finally arrived back at the school and everybody’s parents were there to pick them up. It was a great day!

Boy's Tennis Takes 2nd!

Ben Cromar
Coach Kellis giving out awards at banquet

On May twenty-first, the tennis teams went to the High School’s tennis courts for a delicious barbeque and tennis games! There was a good turnout, lots of varsity and junior varsity players were there, with a good amount of intramural players. First, Coach Kellis welcomed everyone then dismissed everyone to go get their choice of steak, chips, and yummy dessert. After everyone got settled, Coach Kellis gave out awards to player who really shined this year. Then the boys went out onto the courts to play “Beat the Coach” where they played the coaches in singles, or go head on head with a partner on coaches Kellis and McCarthy. The boys had a really great year, being second in district!

Thanksgiving Point Field Trip with Mrs. Miya

Elizabeth Lindsey
Having fun at Thanksgiving Point!

On Monday, May, 20th three of Mrs. Miya’s eighth grade classes had the opportunity to go to Thanksgiving Point’s “Museum of Ancient Life.” The opportunity was made available thanks to funding from The Target Corporation which provides grants for out of the classroom learning. Mrs. Miya applied for the grant in the Fall, and recently was awarded the grant. The original plan was to go to The Kennecott Copper Mine, but after the massive landslide there, Mrs. Miya had to come up with someplace different. After looking at multiple choices for alternative choices, she decided the museum would suit her classes best. We arrived at the museum with an abundance of activities to do, and never ending fun. The learning was incredible and lots of fun. We stayed at the museum for an hour and a half. Then headed to the Provo Towne Center for lunch. At the end of the day we learned a lot, and had a great time doing it! Thanks Mrs. Miya and The Target Corporation for the great field trip!

Spring Captain's Academy

Gammon Ashton and Kaylie Adams
Caleb Mulder

Congratulations to our Spring sports Captain's Academy attendees, Gammon Ashton, Kaylie Adams and Caleb Mulder. In addition to being great athletes, these students are excel in academics and are fantastic representatives of our school! Thanks to Gammon, Kaylie and Caleb for being great examples of good sportsmanship and dedication to their sport and academics!