Standards Based Grading

    • Research indicates that accurate reporting of student achievement based on clear criteria enhances student achievement.

      What is standards-based grading? 

      Standards based report cards present a student's grades as a numerical value as opposed to the traditional letter grading system. Students are graded according to how well they are meeting set educational standards at that particular time.

      A student's report card will spell out the expectations and provide a key explaining what the accompanying number means. Numbers usually range from 1 to 4, where 1 stands for "Meeting Expectations" and 4 stands for "Exceeding Expectations."

      How does standards-based grading differ from traditional grading?

      Standards-based grading reports tell us how students are performing on a set of clearly defined learning outcomes.  There is no single mark for a subject as is traditionally generated by averaging or combining multiple scores across the duration of a grading period. Unlike traditional report cards, standards-based grading measures students’ knowledge of grade-level content by reporting the most recent, consistent level of performance. So, a student might struggle in the beginning of a quarter with new content, but then learn and demonstrate proficient performance by the end of the quarter. 

      For example:  In traditional grading, the student’s performance for the whole quarter would be averaged. Early quiz scores that were low would be averaged together with proficient performance later in the quarter resulting in a lower grade than current performance indicates.  Standards-based grading reports separately on academic tasks and work habits in order to give a more accurate report of student progress in both affective and academic areas.  Measures like effort, participation, timeliness, cooperation are not blended into the grade for academic performance.

      The Northwest R-I School District is committed to setting clear expectations that provide meaningful feedback for students and clear communication with parents.  The focus is on providing information and support for the following:

      • Consistent meaning of grades from class-to-class and school-to-school
      • Clear and timely communication of grading criteria and curricular objectives
      • Opportunities for student involvement in the learning process
      • Use of a variety of assessment methods over time
      • Achievement level of students related to curriculum objectives

      Benefits of Standards-Based Grading for...


      • Students are partners in their own learning.
      • Students monitor their own progress toward the achievement of learning targets.
      • Learning targets are clearly defined.
      • Students understand the expectations and purpose of each learning experience.
      • All assessments are clearly aligned to the learning targets, which are directly aligned to Missouri Standards.
      • Students are required to think critically and to solve real-world problems.
      • Students are offered multiple opportuntities and ways through which to demonstrate proficiency.
      • Instruction meets the needs of all students.
      • All students can achieve their highest potential. 


      • Parents can monitor their student's progress.
      • Parents can see exactly what their children know and are able to do.
      • Parents know in what areas their children need more support and where their students should be pushed to higher levels.
      • Report card grades are less mysterious and have more meaning.
      • Requirements for student progession versus retention are much more clear.


      • Education becomes more learner-focused, so the teacher and student work more closely together.
      • Teachers in the same grade level have the same expectations and standards.
      • Teachers work more closely together due to common goals and understandings.
      • Collaboration encourages consistency between teachers more than ever.
      • In the same way that expectations for students are clearer, expectations for teachers are clearer, as well.
      • Teachers know exactly where students stand in their progress toward learning targets and what supports need to be provided.
      • Assessment results help teachers determine when students need extra help and when they need more challenging work.
      • Professional development is focused on teachers helping students achieve at higher levels.