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Reflections from the Lower School

Michelle Mills, Director of the Lower School

Standards-Based Grading 

Standards-based grading communicates how students perform on a set of clearly defined learning targets called standards. The purpose of standards-based grading is to identify what a student knows, or is able to do, in relation to those learning targets as opposed to simply averaging grades/scores over the course of the grading period. This paints a clearer picture of students’ understanding. 

 Why standards-based grading?   

Standards-based grading reports what students should know and be able to do within each content area at each grade level. The real-time monitoring of student performance reflects a more accurate picture of student achievement. Other reasons for standards-based grading include: 

  • Current methods of grading do not accurately indicate what a student knows and is able to do. 

  • It can benefit all learners – students who struggle and accelerated learners. 

  • Parents are provided information on specific standards while receiving meaningful feedback. 

What is standards-based grading?   

A standards-based grading system measures a student’s mastery of grade-level standards by prioritizing the most recent, consistent level of performance. A student who may have struggled at the beginning of a content or course when first learning new material may still be able to demonstrate mastery of key content/concepts.  

Standards-based report cards also separate academic performance from work habits/behavior in order to provide parents a more accurate view of a student’s progress in both areas. Effort, participation, cooperation, and attendance are reported separately, not as a part of academic performance. 

What will the report card look like?   

The report card will contain indicators for progress using the scales provided below for academic and personal development.   

What are the levels of mastery and what do they represent? 

For Academic Performance: 

  • E (Exceeds) means that a student is doing excellent work. When a child receives an E, it means that he/she  is consistently demonstrating a high level of  knowledge. If a student earns an E, he/she understands the concept or skill that has been taught and has taken the concept or skill to a level of understanding beyond what is normally expected at that grade level. 

  • P (Proficient) is a grade that both students and parents should be proud of. A “P” means that a student’s work consistently meets grade level expectations. A “P” also means that, during this semester, the student demonstrated he/she understands the assessed concepts and can apply that knowledge appropriately. 

  • D (Developing) means there is room for improvement in your student’s work. A “D” means progress has been made, but because of one or more reasons, he/she is not yet doing “P” work. A “D” covers a broad spectrum, from those students who are making slow progress to those who are making faster progress but are not consistent enough to be earning a “P”. 

  • B (Beginning) means there is reason for concern. If your student receives a “B”, it means that he/she demonstrates difficulty understanding or achieving grade level knowledge and skills. The student, parents, and teachers should be working together to ensure the student moves towards grade level standards. 

For Personal Development: 

  • C – Consistently: means that the student exhibits skills or behaviors that are typical and appropriate for their grade level 

  • S – Sometimes: means that the student’s work towards the skill is developing and inconsistent 

  • N – Needs Improvement; means a student does not yet demonstrate the appropriate behaviors in this skill area 

Will my student still receive teacher comments on his/her report card? 

Teacher comments remain an important element of report cards. Individualized feedback is an essential with standards-based grading. Effective feedback is a more useful source of information than simply assigning a numeric value or letter grade to student work. A goal of using standards-based grading is to improve communication between students, parents, and teachers regarding student achievement.