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What Is Standards-Based Grading?

By Staff | Dec 19, 2017

by Mrs. Tracie

Christensen

Middle School Principal

What is standards-based grading? This is a grading system in which teachers look at how each individual student performs on specific learning standards in each content area. By comparing one student’s performance to a clear standard, parents, students and teachers all know precisely what is expected and how well the students understand the concepts being taught. Every time a student attempts a task, the performance is compared to the standard, not to other student performances. The most important advantages for our students and families are fairness, clarity, and improved learning/understanding. Students must show they understand the concepts being taught and have opportunities to relearn and reassess until they can demonstrate the learning has occurred.

As we move along our standards-based grading timeline to fully implement at the Middle School, we have learned that school is not about the grade, but about student learning and understanding. Our grade reports should highlight what students know. Some classes do have a smaller number of scores in the gradebook, although this does not represent the amount of practice students complete before they are prepared to assess on specific standards. The assessments are the scores that parents will see in the gradebook. Theory suggests at least three practice times before an assessment is administered. We have noticed that most students have high grades as the focus is student learning, and we practice and assess until they understand and learn the concepts being taught. Students know what is on each assessment as they practice those concepts until they pass the assessment. Our teachers have certainly learned this is more time consuming for them, but also know they need to ensure student understanding and learning if we want our students to be successful at the next level.

As a staff, we feel it is important to change to standards-based grading to ensure student mastery of essential skills and standards. This structure provides a consistency with instruction, assessment, and grading. It allows our teachers to differentiate instruction for all level of learners and hold all students accountable for their learning. Students take more ownership of the skills they need to achieve in order to be successful in each class.

We will have some community informational meetings during 2nd Semester to share this process and information with all parents and stakeholders. If parents ever have questions or concerns regarding this transition, please don’t hesitate to contact a teacher or Mrs. Christensen, Middle School Principal.