Standards-Based Grading
Grading and Reporting Belief System
Bexley Middle School has adopted a belief system about students and their learning that compels us to move beyond the traditional, single letter grade system. A shared set of beliefs guides this work:


  • All students can learn at a high level and that it is our responsibility to utilize best practices to that end.
  • The primary purpose of assessment and evaluation is to improve student learning.
  • The  intended audiences for grade cards are students and their parents.
  • The most accurate reporting systems are those that separate academic achievement from behavior reporting.
  • Students deserve multiple opportunities to demonstrate what they know and can do after learning.
  • Learning is a process and where you finish is more important than where you start or how long it took you to get there.
What is Standards-Based Grading?
Standards-Based Grading (SBG) is a set of teaching and reporting practices that communicate how a student is performing against a predetermined set of expectations. SBG reports achievement on each standard separately instead of combining them like in traditional systems.
SBG also separates out behaviors such as effort, attendance, participation, timeliness, cooperation, and attitude, in an attempt to give the clearest picture of student learning possible.

How is Standards-Based Grading different than traditional grading?


Traditional Systems

Standards-Based Systems

Grades given by subject as an average of all assignments.

Percentage system (101 levels) is used with incomplete assignments (zeros) having a disproportional effect.

Grades given by reporting standards, reported separately.

Three levels of reporting that only consider the evidence produced.

Criteria for success is often unclear or assumed to be known by students.


Publicly published criteria for success.

Letter grades are a mix of achievement, attitude, effort, and behavior.

Penalties, extra credit, and group scores are included.

Reporting levels indicate the degree of achievement on each reporting standard.

Achievement and effort are reported separately.
Only individual evidence is used.

Curriculum and instruction are teacher centered, textbook driven, and may not be aligned to the standards. (teaching focused)


Curriculum and instruction are student centered and aligned to standards. (learning focused)

All assignments included, regardless of purpose.

Homework completion can be a major factor.

Only those assignments which come at the end of learning (summative) are included.

Assignments which are part of the learning process (formative) are used for feedback and planning instruction, not grading.

All scores from the grading period included.

Multiple assessments recorded as average.


Most recent evidence emphasized and students are able to demonstrate mastery in a variety of ways.

Mean is the primary way grades are “calculated.”

Grades are “determined” using professional judgement, relying on the median, mode, or most recent.

 Adapted from O'Connor, K. (2009). How to grade for learning, k-12. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
SBG Explained (Student Version)
Why do we have grades?

What is Standards-Based Grading?

How do we change the role of grades in learning?

The End of Average

Standards-Based Grading Overview