Standards-Based Grading 1 2 3s Better Than Traditional A B Cs?


Jamison Prull

Sarah Nolting, sr., working on an assignment in AP Research.

Alaina Beaman, Writer

From the start, the introduction of standards-based grading has received mixed responses as to whether it’s better than the traditional grading system.

Some teachers began moving toward standards-based grading as soon as they caught wind of the prospective change roughly two years ago. However for many teachers the change began this year.

In this grading scale, students are assessed based on a scale, students are assessed based on a scale of 1-4. Four means exceeding expectations. Not only are students given a score, but teachers provide feedback on areas where improvement is needed.

“It’s a push from the district to have a standardized way of grading. We have to teach the standards and grade kids according to those standards,” PACT/AP coordinator Sydney Richey said.

However, students sometimes feel like the new system is confusing.

“For my freshman year (standards-based grading) wasn’t helpful because it was so new and they were still developing the system. A ‘proficient’ would go in the gradebook as 75 percent,” Haley Hansen, sr., said.

Students have grown accustomed to the traditional grading system so this new change comes as a stumbling block.

“Feedback can be effective for students but I think students are keen to get frustrated about it since it’s something so new and most students don’t like change and they don’t understand how this is helping them,” Hansen said.

Richey says the district believes that standards’based grading encourages students to learn and not focus on their final grade.

“Standards-based grading really gives you a better picture of what you actually know. And for some kids that may not be easy. In the past they may’ve been able to get by turning stuff in and not knowing anything,” Richey said.

“It puts more weight on the student to actually take some ownership for their grade and put in the work and effort to improve it,” teacher Stephanie Hendrix said.

This new system proves to be a work in progress as teachers experiment with what is best fitted to their teaching method and their classes.

“It’s still new for us as a district and even teachers at this school. As it becomes to be understood more, everyone’s thoughts about standards-based grading will change,” Hendryx said.

For students, changes can often be met with wariness as they disturb life’s normality, but these are sometimes necessary. It’s still too early to say if this change is what Kennedy needs.

“Your grade isn’t some letter or number,” Hendryx said, “it’s something that can be changed.”