What is Standards Based Grading?

  • Standards-based grading is an effective way to give feedback and evaluate students’ performance using clearly defined criteria for meeting course learning standards. This clear communication gives students concrete guidance and useful feedback that they can use to improve their performance in specific areas. Thomas Guskey, author of numerous grading books and research studies, explains that “standards-based education (grading) is centered on the idea that there are specific elements of knowledge and skill that all students should know and be able to do as a result of schooling. These essential elements of knowledge and skill are typically articulated in standards statements.” In Waukesha, these standards statements are called learning targets. Student progress is measured by their proficiency in their course or grade level learning targets. The principles and practices of Waukesha for Learning ensure that students’ grades are valid, fair, and consistent and accurately reflect what students know and are able to do.  Clear standards drive all instructional activities while student-friendly rubrics provide criteria for students to measure their progress towards learning the course standards. In addition, teachers use these same rubrics to make judgements about what students know and are able to do in relation to these standards.