Angie Arndt - Elementary Principal and Special Education Director
A standards-based grading approach focuses on what a student knows, not how long it takes to get there. It measures how well a student understands the material and how they are progressing on their learning goals. It is based on a specific set of standards that students need to meet for each grade level. Teachers gather evidence to determine what each student has learned and how that student is progressing toward end-of-year expectations. Standards-based grading allows teachers to design instruction to give students multiple opportunities, if necessary, to demonstrate success, or to provide enrichment if students are already meeting learning goals. Hampton Elementary School embarked on the standards-based grading journey at the start of the 2022-2023 school year.
As with anything new, there is a learning curve for all involved and change can be hard. The elementary staff has been preparing to make the change to standards-based grading by prioritizing the state standards in the 4 core subject areas of English language arts, math, science, and social studies. Research shows that teachers would need 71% more time than we currently have available to teach all of the standards in depth. This additional time would require 22 years of education to teach all standards to our students in kindergarten through 12th grade. Prioritizing the standards helps teachers to focus on the skills that are most important to teach our students.
Why the change? Traditional grading (letter grades/percentages) often measures using different factors such as homework, extra credit, attendance, and behavior……and sometimes compares how well students do in relation to their classmates. It eliminates many of the factors that can distort the final traditional grade as a true indicator of mastery. Letter and/or percentage grades can be viewed as simply a number. For example: What does a 74% or D in math tell you about the math skills your child has? Which math standards are easy for them and which standards are more challenging? Maybe addition and subtraction are standards your child has mastered but they are having difficulty with fractions. Standards-based grading will allow students, teachers, and parents to know specific information about which math standards have been mastered and which need more time and additional instruction.
As I mentioned previously, I know change is difficult. As a staff, we are continuing to reflect on the process, make changes after careful consideration, and continue to establish clarity with students and families. As a district, we firmly believe this type of grading system provides the following benefits:
Scores reflect how well students understand the material presented and practiced in class
Daily learning targets are clearly defined and aligned with state standards
Multiple opportunities and ways through which to demonstrate proficiency
Ability to monitor their own progress toward the achievement of standards
Specific feedback on progress helps build self-esteem, pride, and motivation
As a staff, we welcome questions from parents as we continue with this transition to standards-based grading. Thank you for partnering with us through the process and providing us with feedback to grow and improve!