Standards-Based Grading

District 401 is in the process of transitioning to standards-based grading (also known as standards-based reporting) for kindergarten through 6th grade.

Throughout the 2017-18 school year, the District's Standards-Based Grading Committee met monthly to develop a standards-based report card for those grade levels.

The committee focused on the importance of developing a tool that would communicate with parents, students and staff a measure of a student's academic and behavioral progress that goes significantly beyond a traditional "letter grade" report card.

Timeline for Change

The committee's timeline is to roll out the new report card starting in the 2019-20 school year, possibly in 2020-21.

This projected transition period gave the committee time to collaborate with teachers, parents and students throughout the 2018-19 school year.

What Is Standards-Based Grading?

The new report card will use standards-based grading to communicate much more than an "A," "B" or "C" about a student.

Once in place, the new system will provide detailed information about how a student is progressing toward standards in specific content areas.

In this context, "standards" means the knowledge and skills that a student is expected to possess in a specific area by the end of the school year. Put another way, standards are learning targets that every student is expected to master.

Instead of traditional letter grades, standards-based grading uses numbers on a scale of 1 to 4. These scores indicate the extent to which a student is on track to meet all applicable end-of-the-year learning standards. 

What the Numbers Mean

Typically, 1 means "Not Yet Meeting Standards," 2 means "Sometimes Meeting Standards," 3 means "Meeting Standards" and 4 means "Exceeding Standards." 

Please note that the District 401 standards-based system is still in the draft stage, and this nomenclature is offered as an example of what is typical among other districts, not as an exact picture of what District 401's system will look like.

With that in mind, an example of standards-based grading would be the following:

Understands what is read — 1, 2, 3 or 4
Uses comprehension strategies — 1, 2, 3 or 4
Understands/applies new words — 1, 2, 3 or 4
Reads fluently — 1, 2, 3 or 4
Selects materials/reads independently — 1, 2, 3 or 4

"Reading" is the area being graded, and the individual items underneath it are the standards that students are expected to meet.

Numbers Don't Equal Letter Grades

As the District makes this transition, it's important for parents and students to understand that the numbers used in standards-based grading do not correspond to letter grades. Specifically: 

► The 1-4 scale should not be compared to the traditional A-F grading scale.

► A mark of “3” cannot be considered a "B," nor should a “4” be considered an "A."

► The "Meeting Standards" score of 3 shows that a student is performing at grade level. If that performance is maintained, the student will meet the end-of-year standard.

Standards-based grading measures the mastery of multiple learning targets. A student's performance is measured against those standards rather than against the performance of other students. The goal is for everyone to meet or exceed the standards.

A Video Overview

For more information about standards-based grading and how it works, we invite you to view the following video produced by TeacherEase, a company specializing in standards-based learning.