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Standards-Based Education

Nodaway Valley Middle/High School



What is the purpose of Standards-Based Grading?

The purpose of standards-based grading is to improve student achievement by focusing instruction and the alignment of curriculum with the essential standards. Standards-based grading and reporting will provide better communication to students, parents, teachers and administrators on what each student knows and is able to do according to the identified standards and separately assess the influence of positive and consistent work habits on student learning.

Why use Standards-Based Grading?

Standards-based grading measures the proficiency of the learning objectives, or how well students understand the material in class. It is based on a specific set of standards that students need to meet for each content level. Grades are not a comparison of one student to another, but rather a way to measure how well students are doing on grade-level/course level standards. A standards-based approach allows parents and students to understand more clearly what is expected of students and how to help them be successful in their educational program.

What are the benefits of Standards-Based Grading?

By reporting on specific learning standards, standards-based grading provides considerably more feedback about how a student is progressing toward learning each standard. This will allow the school to report student learning more accurately and to the degree to which students have attained mastery of learning objectives. It is essential for students to do homework that is tied closely to learning objectives and for students to see those connections. Teachers provide feedback on homework that is assigned to practice new skills. Attendance, effort, behavior, participation and other factors are important but separating these from achievement factors will give parents a clearer picture about their student's learning.

How does standards-based grading differ from traditional letter grades?

Standards-based grading provides information about what students have actually learned and know. Standards-based grading measures students' knowledge of grade-level content over time by reporting the most recent, consistent level of performance. So, a student might struggle in the beginning of a grading period with new content, but then learn and demonstrate proficient performance by the end of the grading period. In traditional grading, the student's performance for the whole grading period would be averaged and early quiz scores that were low would be averaged together with proficient performance later in the course resulting in a lower grade. In standards-based grading, a student who reaches proficiency would be reported proficient and the grade would reflect current performance level.

Everyone knows what an A-B-C-D-F and 100 point scale stands for. Why change?

Traditional grading often measures many different factors and compares how well students do to their classmates. Standards-based grading measures how well an individual student is doing in relation to the grade-level standard/skill, not the work of other students. In the 100-point system, the question becomes "100 percent of what?" There is a need to have more consistency and accuracy about what students know and are able to do. When a percentage system is applied, it can be misleading. 100 percent correctness on a set of very easy questions is very different from a slightly lower percentage on a set of difficult items. A 100-point scale does not consider difficulty of work and leads to an inaccurate measure of student learning relative to specific learning goals. Grades must be accurate and consistent to be useful. The use of a grading scale that is unequal, such as the 100-point scale, distorts the final grade as a true indicator of proficiency. The smaller equal interval scale will cause grading practices to be more accurate and consistent.

What is the effect on the students' Grade Point Average (GPA)?

Standards-based grading will have no effect on GPA. At the high school level, the 4.0 scale will be converted to a letter grade which is used to determine GPA.

What research has been done in developing standards-based grading?

Nodaway Valley has utilized research from the following experts in the field: Ken O'Connor, Rick Wormeli, Thomas Guskey and Rick Stiggins. We also received support and information from Solon and East Union Schools.

NV Standards-Based Education Scale

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