What is Standards-Based Grading?

  • “Learning is an ongoing process and what matters is how much learning occurs, not when it occurs.” — Robert Marzano

    A standards-based approach focuses on what a student knows, not how long it takes to get there. It measures how well a student understands the material and how they are progressing toward their learning goals. It is based on a specific set of standards that students need to meet for each grade level. Teachers gather evidence to determine what each student has learned and how that student is progressing toward end of year expectations. This approach builds consistent grading practices throughout the district K-5.

    The standards-based approach allows teachers to design instruction to give students multiple opportunities, if necessary, to demonstrate success or provide enrichment if students are already meeting learning goals. A standards-based approach also allows parents to understand more clearly what is expected of students and how to help them be successful in their learning. It provides better feedback to students, parents, teachers, and administrators on what each student knows and is able to do based on academic standards and separately assesses the influence of work habits on student learning.

    For these reasons and more, Decatur Public Schools embarked on the journey to become a Standards-Based Grading district beginning 2019-2020 for grades K-6, that has now evolved to K-5. 1

Performance Descriptors

  • Under standards-based grading, performance descriptors replace the traditional A, B, C, D, F grading system. For each standard listed, students are graded using the 1, 2, 3, and 3+ scale. Many students may start the year with a 1 — this does not convert to a D or F in a traditional grading system. It simply shows student progress toward end of year expectations.

    Standards-Based Performance Descriptors

Parent Resources