The Pros and Cons of Standards-Based Grading

When standards-based grading (SBG) started in 2011 at Champaign Central High School, there have been some agreements and disagreements about the new grading system. Most teachers and principals approved of the new system, saying that this system will actually focus on the students’ learning more than the grade itself. However, parents and students were less convinced. Students heard that “homework doesn’t count for a grade” and wouldn’t do the homework, and parents were concerned that this new grading scale would not prepare students for college.


What is Standards-Based Grading?

Standards-based grading (SBG) is different method of record keeping when it come down to the content, social and language goals. Unlike traditional grading, this type of grading system actually focuses on the students’ learning, not the assignments that are created.

Instead of focusing on the grade itself, teachers focus on what is the student is learning and what the student is not learning. Standards-based grading has it’s big focus on the students mastery.


Instead of the traditional grading that includes the A, B, C, D, and F letter grades, standards-based grading goes by a 1-2-3-4 point grade scale. A “1” reflects that the student has made little or no progress on that standard. A “2” reflects that the student has made a little closer to the standard than the student’s progress if they would have got a 1. A “3” reflects that the student has met the standard, and has understood the standard clearly. A “4” reflects that the student has exceeded the standard and took the concepts and skills with complexity, discipline,


Homework doesn’t count for much – so students are allowed to practice and build their skills

Most kids are always be misunderstood when they hear the phrase,“homework doesn’t count” because they would think they shouldn’t do the homework. Homework does count for a little percentage, unlike the tests and projects. Teachers would need to homework count so students would not be mistaken on the “homework doesn’t count” phase. Fortunately, homework is usually counted as practice for preparation for tests, quizzes, and projects.


 Standards-based grading shows what the student knows/is able to do

Another advantage for standards-based grading is the students are measured by the mastery of the standards. Teachers judges by what the students are able to do. Compared to traditional grading, standards-based grading classes show specific standards on what a student has or has not mastered. For example, an English teacher would have a standard like “student can summarize a text” and based on the 0-4 point scale and the student’s ability to write a summary, the teacher would grade the student on that particular standard.  The grades in traditional grading shows very little on what the student has learned, but with standards-based grading, a student is shown by what has the student learned on a specific standard.


Disadvantages of Standards-Based Grading

Although there are lots of advantages when it comes down to standards-based grading, there are some disadvantages of standards-based grading. Usually, these disadvantages fall more on students than teachers.

One disadvantage is that most students are well-known to the traditional grading system. In other words, students previously in middle school were used to the traditional grading system and was fine with the system. Students wouldn’t find out about standard based grading until they get to high school. When they get to high school and know about standards-based grading, most students started to hate the standard-based grading system for various reasons.


Also, some students would want to see their minor and daily assignments count because practice is important to most students and they would want to get feedback on whatever practice the teacher give before the quiz and/or text. Now, during the freshmen and sophomore years, incoming freshman and sophomores have to get use to a system that say homework doesn’t count. When students hear the phrase “HOMEWORK DOESN’T COUNT”, then subconsciously, the student would have the narrative to think why should they do homework if it doesn’t count.


This type of narrative shows a really big impact on a student’s test-taking skills and why a student would do so poorly. Another disadvantage for standards-based grading is the tolerance on the parents and students of a new system. Most parents, when they were young, did not had this type of grading system in school. standards-based grading is not only new to students, but the parents also. The parents think that standards-based grading might create anxiety for the students and really would prefer the the traditional grading system.


Standards-based grading At Champaign Central High School


Teachers at Central High School think that this grading system is convenient for homework, even though homework in standards-based grading doesn’t count, but projects, tests, and big assessments does count, and that, ladies and gentleman, is one of the big problems in standards-based grading when it comes down the parent’s and student’s perspective. The parents felt like this system creates anxiety for their students and might have a high possibility of their kids going to college. At the end of the day, standards-based grading is one of the biggest debatable topics between teachers, parents and students.

Based on the teacher’s, parent’s, and student’s perspective, there are lots of pros and cons to the standards-based grading system. Like everything, there are some people who like it and some people who don’t like it. At least for the time being, standards-based grading is here to stay.

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