Standards-based grading, a popular assessment trend appearing in more and more schools, has left some students, parents, and even teachers scratching their heads.  If you’re looking for a quick overview on what standards-based grading is all about, you’ve come to the right spot!  For starters, check out this great three-minute video by ActiveGrade.

What It Is

Standards-based grading is a method of assessment teachers use to report a student’s progress towards reaching specific learning goals.  Instead of accumulating points, teachers gather evidence of student learning through a variety of skill-targeted informal and formal learning activities.  Skills are practiced and assessed multiple times, allowing teachers with the opportunity to provide specific feedback for growth.

Image Courtesy of Miranda Celeste Hale

Image Courtesy of Miranda Celeste Hale

What It Looks Like

Rather than calculating percentages or determining letter grades, teachers communicate levels of mastery.  It might look like this:

N Novice-Not making expected progress toward proficiency

DP Developing Proficiency-Beginning to grasp and apply key concepts, processes, and skills

P Proficient-Regularly grasps and applies key concepts, processes, and skills with limited errors

AP Advanced Proficient-Consistently demonstrates proficiency; grasps and extends key concepts, processes, and skills

Or maybe…

1-Does not meet grade level expectations

2-Partially meets grade level expectations

3-Meets grade level expectations

4-Exceeds grade level expectations

What It Does

  • It clearly communicates learning targets to students and parents
  • It helps teachers provide meaningful feedback
  • It allows teachers to adjust instruction to meet the individual needs of learners
  • It provides a timely, accurate depiction of a student’s level of mastery

Image Courtesy of Rachel Kramer Bussel

Image Courtesy of Rachel Kramer Bussel

My ‘Not So Skinny’ Example

Learning Target:  Making a Key Lime Pie (mmm…my favorite)

N: The student gathers the necessary ingredients but is unable to follow the recipe

NP:  The student gathers the necessary ingredients but requires assistance with one or more steps of the recipe

P:  The student gathers the necessary ingredients and successfully follows through the steps of the recipe

AP:  The student gathers the necessary ingredients, understands how to make a key lime pie, but decides to make key lime cookie cups with a homemade raspberry sauce drizzle instead.

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