Standards-Based Grading Presentation on Monday

I have to present on Monday to my department the information I learned from a workshop on standards-based grading two months ago, and the presenter used the following works to base his presentation, of which I have read only three:

  • A Repair Kit for Grading by Ken O’Connor,
  • Mindset by Carol Dweck,
  • Transforming Classroom Grading by Robert Marzano,
  • Classroom Assessment & Grading that Work by Robert Marzano, and
  • Classroom Assessment For Student Learning by Richard Stiggins, et al.

Based on his research the presenter provided a number of points about how standards-based grading works, and these are the primary points I noted on my tablet as we discussed this new type of grading.

1. Student behaviors (effort, attendance, etc.) should not be a part of a student’s grades.

2. Late work does not result in a lower grade.

3. Extra credit should not be part of a student’s grade.

4. Academic dishonesty should not result in a lower grade.

5. Attendance should not be a part of a student’s grade.

6. Group scores should not be factored into individual grades.

7. Performance standards must be clear.

8. Grades should not be based on the mean.

9. Zeroes should not be factored into grades.

10. Homework should not be part of a student’s grade.

11. Grades should be based on more recent evidence.

How do you feel about these eleven points?


Previously I have blogged about my feelings on grading, and I’m still slowly molding my grading system, but it’s definitely moving towards standards-based grading. Here are some posts of mine on this topic and grading papers:

1. Standards-Based Grading

2. Standards-Based Grading (cont.) (featuring Jim Van Pelt, an excellent blogger)

3. Excused vs. Unexcused

4. Changing Grading May Change Failure Rates

5. The Rule of 24 and Anchor Papers

25 thoughts on “Standards-Based Grading Presentation on Monday

  1. Mrs. Chili

    I think that the grading should depend on what it is we’re trying to get the students to learn. If it’s ALL performance-based (can the student “DO” X, Y, and Z) then the grading system should be different than if we’re after getting the students to accept responsibility and develop character along with learning the material.

    That being said, I agree with 3, 6, 7, 8, and 11 and heartily DISagree with all the others.

  2. Scribbler

    2 and 4 immediately got under my skin. Both unfairly advantage said student over their classmates and if the work isn’t theirs (4) how can you grade them on it? An interesting list nonetheless.

  3. drpezz Post author

    I have tried most of the 11 points with basic success, and I do have two versions of every exam (for students absent on test days) so giving a student who cheated a different exam isn’t a big deal to me.

    This year I had two students cheat, so I told them to have their parents call me to set up a meeting. Each student wrote a letter of apology detailing how my trust will be earned back, we had a meeting with the parents, and the students took the second exam. I think the non-academic growth was immeasurable, and the test score was about where I figured each student would be. Plus, the parents were very supportive, so it all worked out.

    On one more note, I have reduced the impact of homework, class work, and participation to 10% of a student’s grade and have seen completion rates increase (along with a no late work gets a reduction policy) as well as assessment scores over last year. It seems to be working.

    I’ll keep everyone posted (pun intended). 🙂

  4. Renee

    When someone first said, “no zeroes” to me, I laughed my head off. Now I can see where that theory comes from and almost accept it. But, I don’t think it prepares students for college or the real world. In life, if you don’t do something, it isn’t just forgiven. There is a price. Sometimes, depending on the importance of the task, it could mean being fired. In college, you could fail. I think allowing students to be graded only on what they turn in is unfair to them in the long run, and also unfair to the other students who do everything that is assigned.

    Additionally, how can academic dishonesty not results in a lower grade? I have no idea how that works or what kind of message that sends to students.

    I do agree with #1, 5, 7, though.

  5. The Science Goddess

    How much time do you have to present? Your purpose?

    I’m thinking that if this is going to be an introductory conversation of 60 minutes or less, I would pick your top 3 points out of that list of 11 and allow people time to process.

  6. Jim Van Pelt

    A couple of posters brought up the issue of cheating not lowering the grade. For me the real issue is that cheating not RAISE the grade. When I catch cheating, the student has to redo the work. The punishments for the cheating are the calls to the parents, the apologies, the embarrassment, and then the time necessary to redo the assignment or test. If in the end, after all the steps to do the work right, the student earns an “A” (and you can be sure the student genuinely earned it after doing all that!), then the student should get the “A,” and I’ll bet he/she learned quite a bit along the way that I hadn’t written into my initial objectives. Those lessons would be exactly the ones teachers who want to give the student a “zero” want him to learn: the penalties of academic dishonesty, and the value of doing it right the first time.

  7. drpezz Post author

    Renee – I think the validity of not including zeroes is that formative assessments are not part of the grade anyway, and any summative assessment must be completed to earn a passing grade in a class. It reminds me of any job where the boss wants the project completed. If I do it in five steps and my partner needs seven steps, the bottom line is the project is completed at a specified level of standard. I do it faster, but we both get the job done.

    SG – We have about 60 minutes to discuss (as much or as little) as we wish, but I was asked by the principal to provide the major points in the presentation. How I’m approaching this topic is much like I am with our vocabulary philosophy: it’s a year-long discussion with the discussions occurring in part at each of our department meetings throughout the year.

    JVP – You’re right in my mind. Each time I’ve attended a presentation on this topic, the idea of achievement only being the make-up of the grade is frowned upon. However, I think a citizenship grade–separate from the academic grade–would be an interesting addition to the report card. One grade would show academic progress towards learning targets while the other measures student behaviors.

  8. Clix

    My concern is that I want to make sure the administration’s got my back on the no-zeroes; if a student is missing assessments and is not going to get credit for the course and I’ve done my best to make sure the student and parents know that, I don’t want to find out that the student has been given course credit without having earned it.

  9. drpezz Post author

    That’s a good point. We have these course requirements written into our course descriptions and our syllabi. This way, no one can claim ignorance.

    When I have a student who needs to make up an assessment, I just tell the kid to take it by my desk while the rest of the class continues with the next lesson, and I help that student catch up later in the period.

    Now a principal in my state has the right to waive any credit he/she wishes, but I haven’t had one of my students get credit for a course in which I recorded an F.

  10. Anon Y. Mous

    Interesting post. How do you justify or reason each point you listed? I’d be curious to see the explanations.

  11. Pingback: 2. Late Work Should Not Hurt A Student’s Grade. « The Doc Is In

  12. Pingback: 3. Extra credit should not be part of a student’s grade. « The Doc Is In

  13. Pingback: 4. Academic Dishonesty Should Not Result in a Lower Grade. « The Doc Is In

  14. Pingback: 5. Attendance Should Not Be a Part of a Student’s Grade. « The Doc Is In

  15. Pingback: 5. Attendance Should Not Be a Part of a Student’s Grade. « The Doc Is In

  16. Pingback: 6. Group Scores Should Not Be Factored Into Individual Grades. « The Doc Is In

  17. Pingback: 6. Group Scores Should Not Be Factored Into Individual Grades. « The Doc Is In

  18. Pingback: 7. Performance Standards Must Be Clear. « The Doc Is In

  19. Pingback: 7. Performance Standards Must Be Clear. « The Doc Is In

  20. Pingback: 8. Grades Should Not Be Based On The Mean. « The Doc Is In

  21. Pingback: 9. Zeroes Should Not Be Factored Into Grades. « The Doc Is In

  22. Pingback: 9. Zeroes Should Not Be Factored Into Grades. « The Doc Is In

  23. Pingback: Taking it Up a Notch « A Teacher’s Education

  24. It's Just A Parent

    I’m just a parent with relevant concerns about the standards based grading system. My concerns are about progress and challenge of the advanced learner.

    My daughter who was a straight A student, showing “exceeded expectations” before, is now getting a score of 3 in several areas of math. When I asked why, they said the content area was only worth a grade level score.
    I guess I should be happy that she is a “Grade Level Expert”, which sounds so smart, but that does not show me they are challenging her. They seem to only grade “evidence” on grade level work, yet at home she’s working in algebra. They won’t give her more challenging work at school.

    I’m really concerned about this and future GPAs. How will they determine a GPA if they only grade on grade level work? How will a student show they know more if they aren’t given harder work? If the work is only worth a score of 3, does that mean that 3 will factor as a GPA? This really scares me for college admissions when a 3.0 is much different than a 4.0.

    My daughter who is typically very motivated by grades is shutting down because she feels her efforts are wasted when they only give out a score of 3. It’s kind of like expending 120% on something and then finding out, after the fact, that your friend expended the bare minimum and got the same exact score. Where is the reward for putting out 120% effort. Where is the insentive if something is only worth the bare minimum? What does it say for schools if they only expect grade level mastery? Is this the NCLB at work?

    In the Performance Standards pamphlete given to parents, only level 3 [grade level expecations] has criteria in it. There are no performance standards for level 4. Is that normal?

    Our schoold district has already implemented this grading system. While most of the princples sound good, the practice seems very wrong.

    1. drpezz Post author

      I think your question touches on two items.

      First, I’m not sure how the system to which you refer exactly works because the standards scores can essentially be anything you want. I believe there must be a minimum score which reveals minimum competency and then scores go up from there, maybe even using a GPA standard as the scale: 4.0 = A, 3.0 = B, etc. When students go beyond the standards, they should be rewarded as such.

      In addition, each score that can be earned should have learning targets attached as well as performance standards. A score of 4 should be as easy to define as a 3.

      The second item I think your response also deals with how colleges will look at student scores from a standards-based system. I think colleges will look at the system itself eventually but will rely on the GPA as only one of many indicators for university acceptance as a more holistic approach seems to be more desired than in the past.

      No matter what, your school district should have defined how the standards used translate to GPAs and how each individual score is defined. I would ask about these two areas and force the school officials to give you a real answer. Watch out for circumvention as some officials will dodge and weave difficult questions (mine do). However, maybe there is someone you trust to whom you could speak.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s