Information on Standards-Based Reporting

Standards based report cards measure students against a standard rather than each other.

They communicate student progress by measuring student learning on a well defined standard.  

For example, the Minnesota English Language Arts Standards ask that students in grade 1 read fluently.  We measure fluency (the ability to read accurately and with expression) by listening to a student read grade level text.  Our criteria for fluency is that students read with expression, 71 out of 100 words per minute on a grade level passage by the end of the year.

Our standards based report card identifies the major learning goals that students will be expected to achieve within each subject area at each grade level.  Levels of competency have been establish for each goal, and your student’s report card will reflect how they measure against each standard’s criteria.

A students performance will be determined by a body of evidence including grade level work and grade level assessments.  The following levels of competency have been modeled after the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) descriptors assigned by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE):

Performance Indicators

 4  Mastering     The student exhibits knowledge and understanding of the concepts, skills, and processes the standard requires and can readily apply this knowledge in a variety of settings. 
 3  Meeting The student has a thorough knowledge, understanding, and application of the concepts, skills, and processes the standard requires.  
 2    Developing The student is gaining understanding of the concepts, skills, and processes the standard requires, but has not been able to consistently demonstrate the learning. 
 1  Beginning   The student's is just starting to understand the concepts, skills, and processes the standard requires and needs consistent support.

*Students on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) may receive a modified grade on the report card.

The four components of Standards Based Report Cards

  1. The Minnesota Academic Standards outline what our students should know and be able to do at each grade level.

  2. The curriculum which is based on the Minnesota Academic Standards that supports and drives student learning.

  3. The assessments teachers use to determine the extent to which each student has met the standards.

  4. The communication tool that allows a teacher to report accurately a student’s progress toward meeting the standards.

What is the difference between a Traditional and Standards-Based Report Card?

Traditional Report Card

Standards Based Report Card

Reporting is based on teacher defined criteria

Reporting is based on grade level expectations from the Minnesota Academic Standards

Work habits may be calculated in the letter grade (missing assignments, late work, homework, effort, etc.).

Work habits are reported separately and are not calculated in students’ proficiency towards a standard.

Measures how well students do in comparison to their classmates

Measures how well students are doing as measured by a specific criteria based on a body of evidence

Body of Evidence

A body of evidence is a collection of student data that includes multiple pieces of evidence that help teachers make instructional decisions about how best to teach each student.  At the end of a term, teachers review this evidence and measure it against a criteria to determine each student’s level of performance.  This body of evidence can include skills checklists, chapter tests, benchmark assessments, writing samples performance tasks, and other items that give teachers information about a student’s understanding, application and progress toward specific learning goals.  This difference between grading based on a body of evidence and the way traditional grades are given is that there is no averaging of the evidence.

Characteristics of Successful Learners

Although students behaviors such as missing assignments, late work, homework, effort, etc., affect student learning,  they are not calculated into the marks given in each subject on a standards based report card.  Instead, teachers will assess student behaviors in a separate section on the report card.  The Duluth Public Schools’ standards based report card identifies five student behaviors which affect learning:

  • Shows a positive attitude

  • Completes daily work and homework

  • Behaves responsibly

  • Seeks help when appropriate

  • Participates in class activities

  • Follows directions

Video on Standards Based Grading

"Standards Based Grading Overview" from ActiveGrade - a company that produces grading software. This video gives a good explanation of Standards-Based Grading Philosophy

Helpful articles

"Grading Policies that Work Against Standards and How to Fix Them" By Dr. Thomas Guskey

"Grading to Communicate" by Mr. Tony Winger

"Making the Grade: What Benefits Students" by Dr. Thomas Guskey

"The Case Against the Zero" by Dr. Douglas Reeves

"Decoupling Grades from Attendance" by Dr. Douglas Reeves

Book References

Formative Assessment & Standards-Based Grading by Robert Marzano (2010)

How's My Kid Doing : A Parent's Guide to Grades, Marks, and Report Cards by Thomas R. Guskey(Feb 28 2003)

Developing Grading and Reporting Systems for Student Learning by Thomas R. Guskey and Jane M. Bailey (Jan 2001)

What Do the Levels of Mastery Look Like?  ... A Baking Analogy