Standard Based Grading
As the culture in schools has changed over the years, so has the type of practices and assessments that the students utilize in their daily classrooms. Over the years, we have become accustomed to basing a student’s level of knowledge on a number from a test or quiz. Yet, traditional grading is pretty subjective and sometimes can even force a teacher to put a numerical value on a student’s performance that isn’t cut and dry. Thus, educators have looked into a more practical form of grading for their students. In recent times, the means in which an educator assesses the students has started to change from the formal structured letter grade, that on a report card has little value to a parent, to a more individualized skill assessment. This type of grading breaks from the traditional format, but it appears to definitely be of more value to not only the parents, but the students as well in viewing their overall development.

What exactly is Standard Based Grading?
This type of grading focuses on giving feedback on individual skills that students are assessed on throughout the marking period or semester instead of a unit test or quiz. Students can see what area they need to work on in particular from the material learned instead of having to redo an entire test or assignment. Some areas might have been mastered and by breaking away from traditional grading, a student can focus just on the areas where they need improvement.

By assessing students on a standards-based system, this allows for a student to demonstrate their mastery in a specific area and then move on from that skill to the next level. Since each student gets a chance to demonstrate their competency in specific areas, this is allowing for a more individualized program for each student.

Why is it good for students?
By using standards based grading, students can improve constantly; they are not just stuck with one number to represent their progress. Students can go from basic math level, to grade level, to even an advanced level over the course of one year. They are not being held back from growing on their own timeline due to a traditional form of grading where all students are graded on one standard equally.

As students conquer a new skill, all stakeholders can see their growth and understand what areas are in need of improvement and what areas they have mastered. Another benefit for students is that a test or quiz may only give a snapshot of a student’s ability. The child could be having an off day, and sadly, they are then measured on that one day. Instead, the standard based grading allows for give and take and does not focus on one moment in time.

Implementing Standard Based Grading
To begin the switch from traditional grading, you need to choose a dozen or so unit standards that you want the students to work on. While they are working through the course material, you will assign a value for each skill they perform. If a student does not reach peak performance on a skill, they can go back and try again to enhance that skill after more practice.

This new form of grading is definitely a bit different for parents and students and does take some time getting used to it. Instead of focusing on a number grade, they now have to look at mastery of individualized skills and the feedback from the teachers to grasp their children’s full academic growth and potential. However, the benefits of this new system way out as giving a subjective number does not help improve student performance and reflect their level of learning.