Deer Lakes

School District

Standards-Based Grading

Understanding Standards-Based Grading


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Standards-Based Grading | A Clearer Picture of Your Child's Academic Progress

As Deer Lakes School District continues to improve teaching and learning for all students, we know that parents and families are our most valuable partner. This is especially true as the district continues to hold each student accountable to more rigorous standards in each subject area and grade level. Achieving these high standards requires continuous progress monitoring and providing targeted support as needed. Like teachers, parents need accurate and meaningful information, particularly about their child’s strengths and areas where growth is needed.

As a result, the district has implemented Standards-Based Grading in grades Kindergarten through fifth grade. This system allows your child to know exactly what is expected in each content area and provides parents with a more detailed outline of learning expectations and student progress.  

We believe this is the key to student success. Through standards-based grading, parents will be equipped to help students at home as they progress toward key grade level targets.

The major components of Standards-Based Grading are as follows:


  • Has clear performance standards based on levels of proficiency (Proficiency Scales), not points or percentages or averages.
    Behavior, study skills, cooperative skills, etc. are reported separately using their own scales.
  • Use of more frequent formative assessments.
  • Use of most consistent level of performance to determine grades, with emphasis on more recent evidence shown by student.
    Performance on assessments of learning, not learning activities.
  • Provide multiple opportunities for students to show evidence of learning (During instruction and providing opportunities for re-assessments).  

Standards-Based Grading would eliminate the following practices:

  • Point penalties for late work, academic dishonesty, or attendance
  • Extra credit points for things unrelated to standards
  • Assigning group scores when students engage in cooperative learning
  • Curving class scores or grades
  • Averaging student scores
  • Assigning zeros to student work

Traditional grading methods/practices often lump behavior and study/life skills in with academics by taking points off of assignments, or marking student work down. Standards-Based Grading allows us to emphasize behavior and study/life skills more, since they are reported and measured separately.  It will allow parents to be able to see specifically if their child needs help with an academic concept or if he or she struggles for example with organization and has trouble turning in work on time.

Benefits of Standards-Based Grading:

For Students:
  • Learning targets are clearly defined and aligned with state standards.
  • Students are offered multiple opportunities and ways through which to demonstrate proficiency.
  • Students monitor their own progress toward the achievement of specific targets.  
  • Specific feedback on progress helps build self-esteem, pride, and motivation for students.
  • Promotes a growth-mindset.Helps promote a culture of learning vs. earning, risk taking, and learning from mistakes.

For Parents:

  • Report cards are less mysterious and have more meaning.
  • More accurate representation of students learning and mastery of their learning.
  • Parents are aware of exactly what their child knows, and is able to do, and the next steps for progress.
  • Parents know in what areas their child needs more support.
  • Parents are empowered to increase their child’s confidence and help their student set goals.

For Teachers:

  • Teachers know exactly where students stand in their progress towards learning targets and what support needs to be provided.
  • Aligned expectations and standards across grade levels in every subject.
  • Assessment results help teachers determine when students need extra help and when they need more challenging work.

This is a quick overview of Standards-Based Grading, its benefits, and ways it is a departure from traditional grading and report methods/practices.