Understanding Standards-Based Grading
Grades UPK-4 use standards-based report cards to reflect student progress toward New York State Learning Standards at each grade level. This form of reporting takes a “growth towards standards” approach, and it is not expected that a student will receive 4’s during the first marking periods as our curriculum and instruction progressively builds toward standard mastery by the end of the school year. Grades UPK-4 Report Cards will be posted to the Parent Portal three times during the school year.
Why a Standards-Based Report Card?
- Students can monitor their progress toward achievement of learning targets.
- Instruction & assessment are aligned to the same learning goals.
- Grade-level teachers have identified the same expectations and standards for all students.
- Teachers and Parents work together due to common goals and understandings.
- Students and Parents know in what areas they are progressing and in what areas they need more support.
- Expectation for student’s progression towards standards are clearer.
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.
Standards-based grading does not separate out tests, homework, or projects. 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 give the teacher, student, and parent a very detailed picture of which standards a student has mastered. Non-academic factors like behavior, attitude, and attendance are not included in this grade and reported in a different manner.
With Standards-based grading, there is a shift in what student performance actually means. Traditionally, students have been given letter grades (A, B, C, etc.) or percentage grades (100%, 85%, etc). Standards-based grading reports student progress in relation to the actual standards and you cannot draw a direct correlation from the Performance Level (1, 2, 3, 4) to a letter grade or percentage grade. Keep in mind that a 3 or “proficient” isn’t the same as a B. It means your child has met state standards, and that’s good.
Also, even top students can earn a 2 or “approaching proficiency” grade, which can be a shock for some families. However, it’s more important to know if your child is struggling with a concept than to see a slew of top grades because of stellar work habits. On the upside, early low scores aren’t averaged into the final grade—so once your child masters the concept, the final grade shows that.
Level 4, or the top level, may be the trickiest to understand. If your child earned A’s on traditional report cards, they may have received them for meeting the teacher’s requirements, not necessarily for excelling at or going beyond grade level according to state standard. In the new system, 3’s should be celebrated. 4’s may be harder to come by because they mean that your student is performing above grade level expectations in class. A level 4 is not the same as an A or a 100%. Full mastery of a grade level skill would still be a level 3. However, earning 4’s would be achievable in the classroom if your student exhibits skills and understanding above what is expected at their grade level.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Standards-based grading is done using “Exit Standards,” which are skills that students are expected to achieve proficiency at by the end of the school year. This means that students should not necessarily expect to earn 3’s or 4’s on the first report cards of the year.
What do the performance levels on the report card mean?
4 – Exceeds the Standard
Student performance demonstrates a thorough understanding of the subject knowledge and skills expected at or beyond this grade level.
3 –Meets grade level standard
Student Performance demonstrates an understanding of the subject knowledge and skills expected at this grade level. Skills are developing appropriately.
2 – Making progress towards grade level standards
Students performance demonstrates a partial understanding of the subject knowledge and skills expected at this grade level. Skills are beginning to develop.
1 – Does not yet meet the standards
Student performance does not demonstrate an understanding of the subject knowledge and skills expected at this grade level. Skills need to develop.
NE – Not evaluated at this time