Standards-Based Grading

Embrace. Develop. Expand.

What Do Grades Really Mean?

The purpose of grading is to communicate learning to our children and teenagers, so it is interesting that our report cards often fail to display what a student actually learned in a class. Imagine with me for a moment that you visit two mechanics, one that simply tells you that your car is broken and a second, who gives you a detailed breakdown of the issues. Which would you prefer?

Traditional letter and number grades give us no idea what has been learned, but only show a summary of whatever system the teacher used to produce the grade. It is akin to the first mechanic without information, while standards-based grading provides us with a deeper look at our children’s learning.


standards-based grading

The grading scale for standards-based grading uses the numbers 1-4 and specific vocabulary that describes the level of learning our children have achieved.

1- Low Proficiency

2- Developing Proficiency

3- Proficient

4- Exemplary


Standards-based grading allows for our children and teenagers to experience growth as learners. Homework and classwork are not recorded as grades, but instead, learners are given detailed feedback and coaching to ensure that they grow as learners. When it is time for assessment, children and teenagers can reattempt a different assessment if they initially struggle. Again, the goal is growth and by allowing them to reassess, they can grow as learners, developing a lifelong passion for learning.

The goal of learning is mastering the material, and every child and teenager is unique in how long it may take them to master a standard. In many classrooms, time is the constant, and learning is the variable. In standards-based learning, time is the variable, and learning is the constant; our children and teenagers may move at different paces, but the goal is that they master the material even if it takes a little longer. It also means that for those who are excelling, they can move at a faster pace, tackling more difficult learning!

Report cards offer details about the learning targets our children and teenagers master during each nine weeks. Learning goals are separated from Habits of Work that are connected to the 21st-century skills emphasized in our Portraits of a Graduate. 

Click on a link below to find out more about standards-based grading.

SBG Quick Overview: Great short read on SBG from our partner Otus

SBG Informational Slideshow: Presentation from a successful SBG School with lots of great information

Matt Townsley– The website of one of my favorite SBG experts. It is full of resources!

Our Mission

The mission of Gainesville Preparatory School is to embrace each child as uniquely made in the image of God, and develop them as disciples of Christ who flourish spiritually, socially, and academically in order to expand the Kingdom of God on earth.