Q: What is Standards-Based Grading?
A: Standards-Based Grading is a refined way of reporting what students know and how they demonstrate their learning of state content standards.
Q: What is the purpose of Standards-Based Grading?
A: The purpose of Standards-Based Grading is to align grading with the state content standards as measured by consistent and accurate student achievement data and common criteria for grading.
Q: What is the goal of Standards-Based Grading?
A: The primary goal of SBG is to better communicate what each student knows and is able to do according to state content standards and separately assess the influence of positive and consistent work habits on student learning.
Q: How does Standards-Based Grading work?
A: Traditional grading averages all of the work and other subjective factors that a student has done over a semester. SBG removes extraneous factors and solely focuses on proficiency. Standards-Based Grading assesses a student’s overall work and their most recent work so it really tells us what a student has learned and what they now know rather than what they knew walking into the class.
Q: Why do we need this change?
A: According to the Aurora Public Schools VISTA 2010 Strategic Plan, within the Achievement goals, we will provide report cards that are standards-based by August 2009 for middle schools and August 2010 for high schools.
Q: What will happen to APS students who transfer to other districts who don’t use a Standards Based Grading system? How will their GPA be factored?
A: The way that we calculate grade point averages will not change. So SBG will not affect students who transfer to other districts or students who apply for college.
Q: How does this differ from traditional letter grades?
A: Standards-based grading reports tell us 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 course with new content, but then learn and demonstrate proficient performance by the end of the course.
For example: In traditional grading, the student’s performance for the whole quarter 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.
In addition, traditional grading often includes other subjective factors like attendance, effort, and attitude, which might influence the grade positively or negatively. In standards based grading, we will report proficiency and work habits separately in order to give a more accurate report of student progress.
The new APS Standards-Based grading system will provide two different reports: One will tell us what students know compared to the standards and the other will assess the more subjective factors like participation and effort. In high school, letter grades will be used for academic achievement. Work habits will be communicated on report cards but will not be reported on the students’ transcript.
Q: Which schools will have Standards-Based Grading?
A: All elementary schools use SBG - along with Murphy Creek K-8 and Aurora Frontier K-8 as the first secondary school sites to use SBG. Eventually all APS middle and high schools will be using Standards-Based Grading.
Q: What other school districts in the Denver-Metro area have Standards-Based Grading?
A: Douglas County school district.
Q: Who has been involved in the process?
A: At this point, district personnel have been focused on research and development in order to
- Research a secondary standards-based reporting system to align grading and standards as measured by consistent and accurate student achievement data and common criteria for grading.
- Lead and support the continuous and systematic alignment with the entire leadership and feedback groups.
- Ensure the alignment on the end result with the VISTA 2010 vision.
- Make final recommendations to the superintendent.
Also, teams of secondary teachers, known as Curriculum Standards Groups, have begun the work on prioritizing benchmarks within the content standards of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. These teams will also begin to determine evidence that students have met the standards. An additional team of teachers, known as the Work Habits Group, are determining specific work habits, performance indicators, and a grading rubric to separately report out on the work habits of students.
The work of these groups has been challenging and rewarding. As we have embarked on aligning and prioritizing benchmarks to our district pacing guides and state standards, we have discovered the need to revise our Action Plan for the implementation of secondary standards-based grading district wide.
Soon, we will begin a Parent Group made up of parents from each secondary site in order to provide them with information and gather feedback. Additionally, a student group will be formed as well.
Q: When will this go into effect?
A: Implementing SBG district-wide is an entire process that is already under way. We’re including teachers, principals, students, parents and district staff throughout the process.
To meet the VISTA 2010 goal of adding standards-based grading by August 2009 for middle schools and August 2010 for high schools, we started with a research and development group that is setting the goals and parameters for SBG. We also have a work habits group that is determining how we are going to grade the subjective factors like attendance, participation, engagement, effort and homework.
We are now forming elementary, middle and high school curriculum standard groups that will determine how we’re going to define what student knowledge and work demonstrate each state standard.
We’ll form a group to develop report cards and grade books and will have a plan to make sure all staff are trained how to use this. By August 2009 for middle schools and August 2010 for high schools, all courses will be using standards-based grading and reporting.
Q: What is next in the process?
A:The next steps in adopting Standards-Based Grading in APS is as follows:
- Agree upon common evidence that students have met the standards.
- Implement feedback loops through establishing user groups at various sites.
- Support professional development through district and site-specific groups.
- Develop draft of Standards-Based Report Card and Grade Book.
- Develop Evaluation Plan.
- Implement grade-based reporting through gradual levels of implementation.