SBG Frequently Asked Questions

What is standards-based grading?

In a standards-based system, teachers report what students know and are able to do in relation to the state and national standards. 

What is the purpose of standards-based reporting?

The purpose of standards-based grading is to clearly communicate students’ progress towards learning standards in a timely, fair, and specific manner. SBG accurately communicates student achievement to students, parents, and educators.  

What benefits does standards-based grading offer?
Standards-based grading offers many benefits. All students are learning the same thing in the same subject at the same time. Specifically, it:
  • Provides clear communication and expectations regarding student progress toward trimester learning standards that is accurate, fair, specific and timely;
  • Separates work habits and behavior from academic skills;
  • Shifts the focus toward mastery of essential learning standards and away from the accumulation of points toward a grade on a report card;
  • Encourages students to reflect on and take responsibility for their own learning; and
  • Students will receive more targeted instruction based on their strengths and weaknesses.

  • What disadvantages are associated with standards-based grading?
    Change is difficult. Becoming accustomed to a new way of reporting student performance will take time for all stakeholders: students, parents, and educators. Having thoroughly reviewed the research on SBG before embarking on this change, however, we are convinced that the temporary discomfort is worthwhile. Indeed, there is no evidence that quality assessment practices, aligned curriculum, increased rigor, descriptive feedback, clearly articulated standards, and assessment for learning will harm students.

    What is the key difference between standards-based reporting and traditional grading?
    Standards-based reporting communicates how students are performing on a set of clearly defined learning standards. Rather than providing a single mark for a course, student performance on several key standards is reported. In the past, common practice has been to average student performance on assessments and various assignments throughout a grading period. However, averaging grades does not communicate how a student performs on standards-based learning. A student who struggles on a learning standard at the beginning of a grading period, but knows and demonstrates clear understanding of the standard by the end of the grading period, should receive a grade that reflects that understanding.

    How does standards-based grading encompass special student populations?
    SBG is equally applicable for special student populations. A student's IEP team determines what, if any, adaptations are necessary for a student to master grade-level expectations. Students with accommodations will be instructed with those accommodations and then graded using grade-level, standards-based grading rubrics. Students who have modified grade-level expectations will be graded against modified grading rubrics. Report cards and progress reports will indicate if this is the case.

    How are student work habits reflected in standards-based grading?
    There is a clear correlation between strong work habits and student learning. However, work habits are not inherently part of learning standards. As such, Characteristics of a Successful Student such as work habits, communication and collaboration, and independence/initiative will be communicated separately from the degree to which a student has mastered the learning standards.

    How will standards-based grading affect the placement of eighth graders as they enter high school?
    NBJH teachers and staff will continue to work closely with their high school counterparts to ensure that students are placed appropriately. Placement will be based on several factors, including classroom performance data, Characteristics of a Successful Student, and standardized tests (i.e. TerraNova).

    What is the timeline for implementation of standards-based reporting in District 28?
    The Standards-Based Reporting Committee, comprised of representatives from all four schools in the district, support a pilot program across K-5 and junior high electives in 2016-17. In the 2017-18 school year, all teachers in grades K-5 will participate in standards-based grading while a pilot continues for grades 6-8.  Based on feedback from a parent survey at the end of the 2016-17 school year, the K-5 report cards were updated to show past trimesters and make some adjustments to the teacher comment section.