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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. 



Michelle Mills, Director of the Lower School

Why attendance and punctuality matters.

Regular school attendance is one of the most powerful ways that you can prepare your child for success – both in school and in life. Developing good punctuality and attendance habits early is important because chronic absenteeism increases with age.

Punctuality is very important as this gives your child the opportunity to settle down and get ready to learn. Being present for important announcements, lesson introductions, discussions, and questions and explanations helps to make learning come alive and gets students ready for the rest of the day. Arriving late can be very disruptive for your child because it makes them feel awkward, especially when the lesson has to stop so that he or she can get caught up. It is also disruptive for the teacher as well as other students in the class because it throws them off track. Even arriving just ten minutes late each day will result in about 30 hours of missed teaching during the school year.

Being in the classroom is an important family responsibility. You can help to ensure that your child is engaged in school by:

· Proactively scheduling doctor appointments and family events around school hours

· Practicing a regular bedtime and morning schedule

· Communicating with your child about the importance of being in school every day

· Give specific examples of how education helps people to succeed

· Lead by example


Attendance affects your child’s success!

Poor attendance can influence whether children are reading proficiently by the end of third grade. Nationally, students who miss 10 percent or more days in early grades score significantly lower than their peers on standardized reading tests. Consistent school attendance ensures that your child is a part of a greater learning community. When attendance is a priority, children are not only more academically successful but more socially engaged as well.

Developing positive attendance and punctuality habits at a young age will serve the child well throughout his or her life!