EDIT: This is a follow-up to a previous post.  

It's a pretty exciting time to work in my current school district.  About twenty years ago, the elementary school implemented a standards-based report card.  Over the past several years, we've seen a grassroots movement in the area of assessment and grading reform in our secondary buildings.  Dozens of teachers and building leadership teams have visited and/or inquired about what's going on in our high school and middle school, which is one of the reasons we'll soon be co-hosting a standards-based grading conference in eastern Iowa (before you ask, we've reached our registration capacity and the waiting list has been closed as well).

The purpose of this post is to create a "one-stop shop" illustrating various artifacts that document our district's standards-based grading journey and next steps.

What is standards-based grading (SBG)?

SBG implementation background

Timeline - unabridged; includes implementation timeline and next steps.  

Purpose and Grading Guidelines
  • The primary purpose of grading is to communicate achievement status to students, parents and others.
  • Secondary purposes of grading include providing feedback to students for self-assessment and growth and encouraging student progress and self-monitoring of learning.
  1. Entries in the grade book that count towards the final grade will be limited to course or grade-level standards.**
  2. Extra credit will not be given at any time.
  3. Students will be allowed multiple opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of classroom standards in various ways. Retakes and revisions will be allowed.  
  4. Teachers will determine grade book entries by considering multiple points of data emphasizing the most recent data and provide evidence to support their determination.
  5. Students will be provided multiple opportunities to practice standards independently through homework or other class work.  Practice assignments and activities will be consistent with classroom standards for the purpose of providing feedback.  Practice assignments, including homework, will not be included as part of the final grade.  
**Exceptions will be made for midterm and/or final summative assessments.  These assessments, limited to no more than one per nine-week period may be reported as a whole in the grade book.  

Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are all middle school and high school teachers required to use the same grading rubric?
A: Yes, after receiving feedback from parents and students, a group of teachers and administrators agreed on a consistent 4-point scale.
4 - Demonstrates thorough level of understanding of course or grade-level standard.
3.5 - Demonstrates understanding of course or grade-level standard.
3 - Demonstrates a developing understanding of course or grade-level standard.
2 - Demonstrates partial understanding of course or grade-level standard.
1 - Demonstrates minimal understanding of course or grade-level standard. 
Q: How is the 4-point scale translated into a letter grade to calculate grade point averages?
A: Sixth through twelfth grade students currently receive letter grades on their report cards.  The specifics vary from class to class, however many teachers use a straight conversion.  For example, if there are 10 standards in a quarter, 10 standards x 4 = 40.  A student with all "4's" except for one "2" would earn 38/40 = 95%, A.

Q: Is this similar to competency-based education (CBE)?
A: Although it is not yet an example of a pure competency-based education environment, steps taken in a standards-based grading philosophy may be a big step towards CBE in the future.
Reference: "What is the difference between standards-based grading and competency-based education?"
Q: Can I/we visit your teachers in action? 
A: Feedback from dozens of teachers and leadership teams who have visited in the past several years indicates the most valuable use of time is conversation between educators rather than classroom visits.  You're encouraged to check out the resources above to gain a more in-depth understanding of our background and philosophy.  If you'd still like to visit, contact me to setup a virtual or face-to-face meeting.