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Standards-Based Grading

For the past several years, the Appleton Area School District has studied methods of grading that more accurately reflect and report student learning. This work has resulted in a standards-based approach that we call Standards-Based Grading.

Ultimately, we believe Standards-Based Grading will assist our teachers to more authentically and accurately communicate student achievement on our course standards. 

The goal of grading for learning is to improve student learning by reporting grades that are accurate, meaningful, consistent, support learning, and that provide students more details on what they are expected to learn and the progress they have made in their learning.

By changing our mindset around how we respond to assessments and shifting our grading practices to reflect what students know and are able to do, student achievement will improve.

So ...What is Different?

In a traditional grading system, a student’s performance for the grading period is certified through the accrual of points, often converted to percentages, which includes assignments introduced as practice or 1st attempts in learning. 

The essential question answered in a traditional grading system is: How many points have I accrued on everything evaluated throughout the grading period?

standards-based grading system certifies a student’s demonstration of performance on a standard by the end of a grading period.

The essential question answered in a standards-based system is: To what degree has the student demonstrated the necessary knowledge or skill as described in the standard?

Standards-Based Grading Belief Statement

We believe that effective grading practices need to meet four overarching criteria for success. They need to be accurate, meaningful, consistent and support learning.  Grades need to be an accurate and reliable reflection of student achievement in the subject/content. Each student’s grade should accurately reflect his/her degree of progress in achievement of the identified learning goals and standards for that subject/content. 

Grades need to be meaningful and must communicate useful information to students and to everyone interested in and needing to know about their learning. Grades are most meaningful when learning/work habits are reported separately. In the AASD we refer to these habits as Career and Life Skills. Career and Life Skills are an important factor in a student’s preparation for college and careers.   

Grades need to be consistent across teachers. The grades that students receive should not be a function of who their teacher is. Performance standards need to be the same from teacher to teacher for a similar subject/course. Students achieving at the same level in a similar subject/course should get the same grade regardless of context. 

Grades need to support learning. Grades should reflect student achievement and are an  indicator of what the student has learned rather than a reflection of simply doing the work or accumulating points. We want students to understand that school is about learning and that their grades reflect the evidence of their learning progress.  

Adapted from:  A Repair Kit For Grading: 15 Fixes for Broken Grades by Ken O’Connor