What Kids Learn in Glenwood Schools

Teaching and Learning Are Changing



       Standards-Referenced Grading

      History of Teaching, Learning Decisions

      Frequently Asked Questions

      What is the Iowa Core?

      Grade Specific Iowa Core Information

      GCSD Learning Policies, Plans

      Communicating with Your Child's School

      Teachers Explaining Expectations

The Glenwood Community School District is committed to meeting the needs of all students as they become citizens of our modern world.

What does this mean for your child? It means that Glenwood teachers and staff members will employ every available resource to ensure your child has the skills and the knowledge to succeed as an adult. This includes typical academic expectations, such as the ability to read or to solve math equations. But GCSD is also committed to working with students on critical thinking, empathy, cooperation, independence and citizenship and many other skills they will need to succeed.


Getting all Glenwood students to this level of success won’t be easy, and teaching and learning must change in our schools. Staff members, with guidance from state and national research, have spent the last four years changing the way students learn and teachers teach. These changes are based in something called competency based education.

This is very different from the way schools, especially high schools, operated in the past. You may remember when students were given a grade based on their performance as compared to peers’ performance, or on "the curve." Or when students in the past may have been given credit for "seat time," i.e. credit for being in class, not necessarily for learning what's needed before moving on.

Instead, today’s teachers try to determine if students understand certain concepts or standards at various stages of education. The fancy term for these concepts is outcome. For example, in GCSD, one outcome is that by the end of third grade, all students should be able to multiply and divide. Or by the end of ninth-grade students will know how to express their ideas and thoughts clearly and completely through writing.

To support students as they strive to attain these outcomes, each subject in Glenwood schools has a written, uniform curriculum. This curriculum, based on Iowa Core learning standards, serves as a guidebook for students and teachers. At its heart is a list of outcomes - the things students need to know to succeed. Under each outcome is a list of components, or the steps students need to complete to learn what's required in the outcome. Think of the components as rungs on a ladder, with the outcome at the top.

Teachers are also provided materials and lesson plans that will help students learn the information and the tests – known as outcome assessments – that then help determine the level of the students' knowledge of the outcome. Click here to read GCSD curriculums.


Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours have been invested over the past four years into this process, by community members, parents, teachers and administrators. This process is governed by the Glenwood Curriculum Coordinating Council.

Here are some of the resources that helped inform their decisions:

Why allow retakes on tests? – an 8 minute video

The Case Against Zero

Grading in Standards Based Schools

How should we think about homework? – a 7 minute video

Competency Based Education Resources from Iowa Dept of Ed


The reteach/reassess guidelines and the homework policy are the two most familiar changes GCSD has made recently.

Under reteach/reassess, a student who does not understand a concept or who does poorly on a test can ask a teacher to go over the material again, or reteach. After reteaching, the teacher offers the student a chance to retake a test on the material. It’s not the same test that was given before, but it covers the same material. The new grade then counts toward the student’s final grade. Here's another short video that gives insight into reteach/reassess.

Homework policy changes the way we think about homework. In the past, students could earn a significant amount of credit toward a final grade with homework grades. This practice varied from teacher to teacher and class to class. With this new uniform policy, work outside the classroom should be considered practice of the concepts and skills they are learning at school. Baseball is a great analogy for this concept. Baseball players go to practice to work on their skills, batting, pitching etc, but the final evaluation (outcome assessment) of these skills is "graded" during a game.

If you would like more information or have questions, please contact your child's teacher or principal.