• What is the purpose of standards-based grading?
    The purpose of standards-based-grading is to accurately represent students’ abilities rather than the assignments or extra credit they complete.

    How does standards-based grading differ from traditional grading?
    A standards-based grading system measures a student’s mastery of grade-level standards by prioritizing the most recent, consistent level of performance. Thus a student who may have struggled at the beginning of a grading period when first encountering new material, may still be able to demonstrate mastery of key content/concepts by the end of a grading period. In a traditional grading system, a student’s performance for an entire trimester is averaged together. Early quiz scores that were low would be averaged together with more proficient performance later in the course, resulting in a lower overall grade than current performance indicates. Under the standards-based grading system, formative assessments over the course of the trimester will measure skills necessary for students to master in order to successfully complete cumulative summative assessments.

    Why is Del Mar Middle School changing to Standards-Based Grading?
    The change is made so that grades earned by students more accurately reflect what they know and can do. Standards-based-grading reports what students know and are able to do within each content area. The real-time monitoring of students performance reflects a more accurate picture of student achievement. Other reasons for standards-based-grading include:

    • Traditional methods of grading do not accurately reflect what a student knows and is able to do.
    • Students will be able to explain what they learned or did not learn rather than recite a letter grade or percentage. (i.e. I can describe the process of cell division by mitosis.)
    • Standards-based grading provides accurate and meaningful feedback to student, teachers, and parents.
    • Standards-based-grading helps teacher and students focus and adjust instruction and learning.
    • Standards-based-grading leads to higher learning through improved accountability and engagement as students have multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery. (i.e. retakes of assessments or assignments)
    • Standards-based grading reports most recent evidence and trends of students learning.


    What will ALMA look like?
    Our traditional report card already has a feature of standards-based-grading with the reporting of Citizenship/Habits of Learning. Standards-based-grading separates academic performance from work habits and behavior in order to provide parents a more accurate view of a student’s progress in both academic and behavioral areas. Variables such as effort, participation, timeliness, cooperation, attitude and attendance are reported separately, not as an indicator of a student’s academic performance.

    Will students have a traditional report card?
    We will maintain a traditional A-F report card for now. Teachers will clearly communicate to students and parents how their standards-based feedback converts to letter grades. When we have a more fully developed standards-based system of feedback, we will consider aligning the report card to a standards based system of reporting.

    Where else in the area is standards-based feedback and grading being implemented?
    It is important to note that our elementary schools have been utilizing a similar grading system for several years, so it will not be new to the majority of our families. Numerous teachers in the Tamalpais Union High School District embed standards-based-grading practices into their classrooms. A growing number of schools are creating report cards that reflect student proficiency on specific standards, including Ross School and Hall Middle School. Branson High School is a part of a nationwide consortium looking to end A-F grading in high school.

    How does standards-based grading prepare students for High School, College, and Careers?
    By giving students ownership of their learning, standards-based grading gives students a more meaningful, realistic learning experience. Standards-based-grading teaches students self-advocacy skills necessary to achieve in college and/or career settings. Based upon work done by Marzano, Guskey, Pickering, Reeves, Popham, Wiggins, Stiggins, O’Connor, and Brookhart, standards-based-grading has increased achievement. Research on standards-based-grading has shown that students learn the content on a deeper level and perform better in college when exposed to effective standards-based instruction and grading.