Standards-Based Competency Grading

  • Standards-based grading communicates how students are performing on a set of clearly defined learning targets called standards. The purpose of standards-based grading is to identify what a student knows, or is able to do, in relation to pre-establish learning targets.

    How does standards-based grading differ from traditional grading? 

    Unlike with traditional grading systems, a competency based standards 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 course, 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 quarter 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. Standards-based report cards separate 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.

    How are my child’s marks determined? 

    A student’s performance on a series of assessments will be used to determine a student’s overall grade in a course. Practice assignments are just that, practice, and thus should serve primarily as a source of feedback and instructional support for both students and teachers. Scores on practice assignments should not be used as a major component of a student’s academic grade. Teachers may require students to complete all of their practice work prior to allowing them to take, or retake, an assessment. 

    What will each of the numbers in the 4 point scale represent? 

    A score of (4) would indicate that a student exceeds a standard by consistently demonstrating an advanced level of understanding and/or the ability to apply their knowledge at a higher level. A score of (3) would indicate that a student has independently achieved the standard. The student demonstrates mastery of the standard. A score of (2) would indicate that a student is developing an understanding of a standard, but still may be in need of additional instruction and/or support. A score of (1) would indicate minimal understanding of a standard. The student shows limited evidence of understanding the standard. 

    How does this compare to traditional letter grades? 

    You cannot really compare a traditional grading system to standards-based grading. It is like comparing “apples to oranges.” Standards-based grading identifies a standard and indicates whether or not a student is meeting the standard at a given point in the school year. A score of (3) is defined as meeting grade level standards and indicates that a student has demonstrated mastery of the skills that were expected to be learned by that point in the grading period.

Standards Based Competency Scores 

  • Students are rated on a scale from 1 to 4. The target is a Level 3. A level 3 means they are doing exactly what is expected for a 4th grade student.  This is what the numbers mean: 

    1 = Beginner 

    2 = Approaching Proficient 

    3 = (grade level – this is the target!) 

    4 = Beyond Proficient (still at grade level, but with more detail and precision) 


    COMPETENCY/GOAL: My student can compare numbers to 1,000,000. 

    Level 1: My student is working to compare smaller numbers and is considered a beginner.

    Level 2: My student can compare numbers to 10,000 consistently and is working to compare larger numbers. 

    Level 3: My student can compare two standard numbers up to 1,000,000 using >, <, or = with  consistency. 

    Level 4: My student can compare 2 or more numbers up to 1,000,000 using >, <, or = with consistency and compare to real world examples.

    The score represents the highest level mastered. At level 2, the student has mastered  level 2, and is currently working on the skill set for level 3. 

    Students will have multiple opportunities to show what they know. You should  look for growth and progress, as well as look at their current scores. If there is no  score, that means it is something we haven’t worked on yet in class. 

    We have also included 4 ELA competencies in each subject area. This shows students that clear organized writing, learning vocabulary, using basic editing, and  participating in class discussions are a part of all subjects (not just Reading / ELA).