Hey Folks!

Here is the letter that I am preparing to hand out at the Open House or send home with students. Feel free to use this and/or borrow from it. It focuses on the Powered Up XP Grading (but I just call it XP Grading). Just wanted to share

And in HTML if you prefer:

Trailblazer Family:

Mr. Powley’s American History courses use an innovative approach to instruction based on Game-Inspired Designs. This means that the classes will apply game elements to traditional course content and skills development in order to increase student engagement. Students will still be instructed according to the newly updated 2020 South Carolina US History and Constitution content standards and dual enrollment courses will still meet the expectations of the HGTC Instructional Packets. Applying the game inspired designs will create a unique experience. A key component of my class will be a new grading structure referred to as XP Grading. 

The “XP Grading” system is modeled on the way Role-Playing Games illustrate character growth. In these games a player starts the game in their weakest possible form but as they demonstrate their mastery in game skills the player’s character is rewarded with Experience Points, often called XP. This allows the player to “level up” as an illustration that they have become more powerful. In my game inspired classrooms students start the class without demonstrating any mastery of content or skills therefore every student will start as a “Level 0”; however as they become more proficient as Historians they will “level up” into their grade. By successfully completing activities students will demonstrate mastery of skills and content and earn them Experience Points, or XP. Each student will begin the class with Zero XP and will “level up” into their final grade based on the amount of XP they have accumulated during the semester. The ultimate goal is to reach 10,000XP for which represents that the student has demonstrated mastery over 100% of the course expectations. Since this is still an Horry County Schools, and possibly Horry Georgetown Technical College, class students will still earn a final grade based on their final XP Count. To earn an “A” students will need above 9,000XP, a “B” is above 8,000XP, a “C” is above 7,000XP, and a “D” is above 6,000XP. One small formula is also necessary because according to Horry County Schools policy, each course must have a final exam that accounts for 20% of the overall average.   For this reason, in the HIS201 and HIS202 courses, the “leveling up” grade will count for 80% of the semester average with the final exam/EOC accounting for the other 20%. 

This may be awkward at first but there are several benefits to this system.  First, once a student has gained a level their level will not decrease; a student with a 99 number grade will not score a 95 on a test and see their average go down. Secondly, this also means that no student is doomed to fail because of a low test score or binder average. In fact, even a low score on a test demonstrates that the student has learned something and they will earn XP based on the score meaning the grade always goes up.  Thirdly, all XP is weighted equally (though activities are not). This means that there are many paths available to achieving the final XP goal. For example, a student that struggles demonstrating their mastery through a test can find an alternative form of demonstration in order to achieve a high score. Every student has the ability to win this game. Finally, XP Grading creates a more accurate snapshot of the students overall development towards mastering the course standards. I do not believe grades should reflect behaviors like lateness, lack of outside support, disciplinary issues, and other issues of equity and try to eliminate this barriers. This way the grade can reflect a more accurate illustration of the students’ skills in the moment. 

The downside of this grading system is that PowerSchool is not very supportive. The dual enrollment courses will not be used as a gradebook. Students will have access to a “Personal Dashboard” which is linked to my Google Spreadsheet based Gradebook. Each student will have a real time record of their XP count and completed assignments which parents can monitor if they so choose. I will also provide an updated XP Count each week on the students’ HGTC based D2L page gradebook. To provide a better context for the XP count I will also provide a benchmark XP count pace on the D2L page that will reflect the number of XP a student should have in order to achieve a 10,000XP score by the end of the semester.  Please feel free to contact me.  Thank you and I am looking forward to an amazing semester.


Adam Powley