Standards Based Grading

Mrs. Rowley’s class is graded based on student mastery of the Utah Core Standards for 7th grade LA/Writing.  Additional information and videos provided by Iron County School District on their website is very valuable and helpful – visit it by clicking here! 

CMS Information on Standards-Based Grading          (view infographic)

What is standards-based grading? Standards-based grading measures your student’s mastery of the essential standards for a class, or how well your student understands the material in class. At the beginning of every unit, the teacher will break down the standards for the unit into smaller objectives and criteria using a detailed rubric. During the unit, the student is assessed to see if they truly know the material using a variety of assessments, such as traditional pencil-and-paper tests, projects, discussions, or reports. The class grade will be based on all of the evidence the teacher collects demonstrating mastery of the essential standards. 

The End Goal: The goal of this approach is to provide the teacher, student, and parent as accurate a picture as possible of the student’s learning and to encourage a dialogue about how the student can master the material for the class. In particular, because learning is a process that takes place over time, each assessment will provide feedback for the student about what to focus on next, and the student will be allowed to retake assessments. If the new assessments shows a higher level of mastery, that new score replaces the old one.

 How is standards-based grading different from traditional grading? In the traditional 100-point grading system, a student’s grades are typically based on all of the work assigned in class, including classwork, homework, projects, quizzes, and tests. These scores are often arranged in the grade book based on the type of assignment rather than on the essential standards for the class. The grade may also include points for non-academic factors, such as participation, effort, or attitude. 

Important to know: Standards-based grading does not separate out tests, homework, or projects in grading. All of the work a student does is used to assess the student’s mastery of the essential standards. A student’s scores from their work are tracked by the essential standards, which gives the teacher, student, and parent a very detailed picture of which standards a student has mastered. Non-academic factors like responsibility, growth mindset, and resilience also may be included in this grade.

Why is the district changing to standards-based grading? The goal of the Iron County School District is to report grades that are accurate, consistent, meaningful, and supportive of learning.  The motto “Every Child Every Day” taking into the standards based grading concept will allow us to help students individually achieve higher based on what their needs and struggles may be.   The change to standards-based grading is an effort to reach that goal and will help us by identifying specific areas where improvement is needed. Here is how standards-based grading addresses each of those four criteria.

Accurate: By basing a student’s grade solely on academic factors, the teacher creates a clear picture of what the students have learned without the influence of other factors.  These other factors, such as effort and attitude, are still essential, but are not part of the student’s academic grade and are communicated separately.

Consistent: For each unit, the teacher will provide a rubric that describes exactly what the student will need to master.  Using these rubrics establishes clear expectations for mastery up front and applies them consistently throughout the unit and semester.

Meaningful: A meaningful grade is one that clearly communicates what learning has taken place.  In a standards-based classroom, scores are recorded by the essential standards rather than by type, such as tests or homework, making it easier to identify areas of strength and to address areas of concern for each student.

Supportive of Learning: Standards-based grading supports learning by focusing on the material that has or has not been learned rather than on accumulating points to reach a certain total.  The reassessment policy also supports student learning by allowing new levels of learning to replace old when a student shows improvement on an assessment.

What do the scores on the 4.0 scale mean? The scores on the 4.0 scale each have a very specific meaning.  They are:

4.0: The student demonstrates an in-depth understanding and mastery of the material by completing advanced applications of the material. 

3.0: The student demonstrates proficiency of material by completing specified learning targets on their own. 

2.0: The student is approaching understanding the basic foundational material from the learning targets but with assistance.

1.0: The student is developing understanding but lacks the basic foundational material required in the learning targets.

0.0: Even with assistance from the teacher, the student shows no demonstration of understanding or effort of learning of the material.  A zero will not be given for missing work until the end of the semester.

What is the grade scale for standards-based grading?

The 4.0 scale will be converted to a letter grade using the grading scale shown below.

A  90-100%:                                        3.0-4.0
B  80-89%:                                           2.0-3.0
C  70-79%:                                           1.0-2.0
D  60-69%:                                           0.5-1.0
F  0-59%:                                              0.0-0.5

This conversion scale sets clear expectations for student learning. In order to receive the various grades for a class, a student must, with help, show an understanding all of the foundational skills taught in class. The C range shows that the student understands all of the foundational skills with little help, and the B range requires a student to be proficient in all of the complex, targeted knowledge in the class. Finally, to receive an A, the student must show mastery and an in-depth, advanced understanding of the learning targets.

Possible questions that may come up with this change:

How will my student be assessed?

Your student’s learning will be assessed by a variety of formative (activities and labs) and summative (quizzes, tests, and projects) assessments.  Our quizzes and tests will be done on Masteryconnect.  Students will have an account set up and I will provide reports on the assessments through that and Canvas for parents to view and assist their child.  

Everything we do in class will be based on our standards and will be designed with the sole purpose of helping each student reach proficient to mastery of the concepts being taught.

What can my student do to raise their grade in a standards-based class?

The goal in a standards-based class is on ensuring that students master the essential standards for the class, so any efforts to raise your student’s grade will have the same goal.  Your student should regularly reflect upon their progress on the standards through masteryconnect, and Canvas and also talk with the teacher to determine which standards need improvement and fill out a reassessment agreement to create a plan on how to relearn the material and when to be reassessed.  If your student demonstrates a higher level of mastery on the assessment, then the grade for that standard will be increased and your student’s grade will increase. Again, the focus is on improving your student’s mastery of the material, so extra credit is not optional in standards-based classrooms.

What does my student need to do in order to be reassessed?

This may vary from teacher to teacher.  See the individual teacher and their test re-take policy.  After completing an assessment in Mrs. Rowley’s standards-based class, the student can ask for a reassessment using the process described below.

  1. The student gets a copy of the reassessment agreement from the teacher and completes the “Standards to Reassess” section to choose what standards the student wants to be reassessed on and at what levels.
  2. The student completes the “Preparation Information” by picking a few activities that would help with relearning the material.  The student then arranges a meeting with the teacher to discuss the agreement. The teacher may require specific activities to be performed prior to reassessment, but all of them must show evidence that they were completed.
  3. Together, the student and teacher will decide when, where, and how the student will be reassessed in the “reassessment information” section.
  4. Once the activities chosen by the student are completed, the student will show the evidence to the teacher and get approval to retake the assessment.
  5. The student will then gain access to retake the assessment desired.

The purpose of the “Reassessment Agreement” is to:

  • Ensure that relearning takes place of the missed concepts
  • Identify specific areas student needs to improve and help them take personal accountability in their progress
  • Clarify the expectations on assessment needs for both student and teacher
  • Identify a clear path of achievement so there are no surprises.

If you have any additional questions about the reassessment process, please contact your student’s teacher. 

Why should my student do the homework assigned in class if it may not be included  in the grade? Assignments are assessments and we use them in class.  Depending on the teachers, all assignments are graded. Many students feel that in a standards-based class they don’t have to worry about anything except their final chapter or unit test. This is incorrect. It is important for students to understand that they are being assessed every day by their teachers, and that everything they do in class lets their teacher assess their knowledge and helps prepare the students for the assessments. Just as an NFL team would never expect to win the Superbowl without hours upon hours of practicing, students need the practice homework provides to prepare them for success. 

Student work is also analyzed by teachers to determine growth and improvement towards mastery of a specific skill or content. Every teacher has the responsibility of taking all the work a student does into account when assigning a grade to a student’s work for a semester. So, if a student chooses to not do an assignment, not only are they missing an opportunity to practice a skill, they also miss an opportunity to display mastery of a standard to their teacher. 

Why doesn’t my student have a grade yet? Because standards-based grading focuses on assessments, your student’s overall class grade may not be updated as frequently as it was when every assignment impacted the grade. This shift is especially noticeable at the beginning of the semester when it may take a few weeks for the class to complete the first assessment and for your student to be given a grade. However, while the overall grade may not change as frequently, the teachers are still recording other assignments, such as homework and in-class assignments, that provide important feedback to you and the teacher about what work is being done. You can see this additional information by clicking on your student’s grade for a class. Please contact your student’s teacher at any time if you have questions about your student’s grade. 

Are non-academic factors, such as effort, attitude, participation, and behavior part of the class grade?  These factors have always been and will continue to be an important part of your student’s success. However, in standards-based grading, some of these factors may be included in classes or assessed separately.

How will standards-based grading affect my student’s GPA and transcript?  Standards-based grading reports an overall letter grade for each course, so it does not have any impact on your student’s grade point average or transcript.