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Grading Woes: Traditional or Standards-Based?

The term ‘Standards-Based Grading’ (SBG) is one that has recently swept into the educational system, but what does it actually mean? How does it differ from Traditional Grading? This innovation focuses on increasing student achievement and learning through measuring specific levels of mastery. Implementing such practices has been understood to make grading more meaningful, which Muñoz and Guskey (2015) stated to be “the best practice for sound classroom assessment.” Standards-Based Grading is then combined with updated instructional practices to facilitate additional student engagement and enrich the classroom environment. This is all then interpreted and shared between educators, parents and students on progress reports and report cards. A traditional report card provides parents with an average grade for each subject the student is enrolled in; this average is represented using an A, B, C, D, F standard scale which we are all quite familiar with by now. However, Hochbein and Pollio (2016) have reportedly spoken out to “cause questioning regarding what these (Traditional) grades actually mean,” a seemingly mundane process that has been discussed for several decades. Cox (2011) referenced the changeover of veteran teachers to SBG, noting the many positive changes associated with the transition.

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