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Standards-Based Grading Roundtable: What We’ve Achieved and Where We’re Headed


As K-12 grading practices evolve, it’s critical for school leaders and educators to routinely review grading policies and reflect on the effectiveness of practices to ensure adjustments are made that benefit all students.

In this roundtable webinar, four school leaders who implemented standards-based grading this past school year huddled up to collectively enhance their understanding through feedback and reflection.

The panel discussed:

  • If their school district’s current grading policies meet the goals of standards-based grading.
  • Specific areas within their practices that may need to be adjusted.
  • How they’ll approach grading in the new school year using all that they’ve learned.

Whether you’re just starting your journey with standards-based grading or already utilizing a standards, mastery, or competency-based system, this webinar serves as a valuable conversation you do not want to miss.

Three Key Takeaways from the Webinar

Evaluating and Realigning Grading Policies

Evaluating and realigning grading policies is key to making sure they match the goals of standards-based grading. Post-pandemic, many schools found that a reset helped them focus more on prioritizing standards. Regular reflection helps ensure grading practices actually show what students have learned and how they’ve grown.

For example, a teacher might regularly review and adjust their grading criteria to better reflect student mastery of key standards rather than just task completion.

“The first question is, ‘Where are we going?’ So you’re looking at your standards and really understanding what the standards are, and then how are you assessing those standards, you know, where are we at now. And I would say we really are leaning into our platform, which is Otus, around, putting those assessments in this platform and really kind of tagging as they create an assessment.”

Dr. Susan Ejma

Director of Teaching and Learning, Maercker School District 60

Adapting Practices for Improved Equity and Clarity

Adapting grading practices can make them fairer and clearer. By refining report cards and focusing on fewer but more essential proficiencies, grading becomes more understandable and equitable. This approach helps teachers give better feedback and support to all students, especially those with diverse needs.

For example, administrators often work with teachers to develop clear, consistent rubrics that prioritize essential skills, making it easier for students to understand how they are being assessed.

“One of the things that I found as we implemented our new platform, Otus, and building these assessments with Rubrics is I had a teacher say, oh my goodness. I thought it meant this. This is how I would have graded it, without this conversation. I would have done a three, and the other one’s like, I would have done a two. But when they had common language around what a three is towards that standard and a two and a one, it was a heavy lift in the beginning.”

Dr. Susan Ejma

Director of Teaching and Learning, Maercker School District 60

Boosting Student Engagement and Ownership

Switching to standards-based grading can really boost student engagement and ownership of their learning. The use of formative and summative assessments shifts the focus from just getting good grades to promoting a growth mindset that encourages students to value their progress and efforts.

For example, a teacher might emphasize skill development and provide regular feedback, helping students see their progress and areas where they need to improve, rather than focusing solely on grades.

“Formative is where you’re supposed to get the feedback. It’s the learning process. It’s supposed to be messy. This is why you’re here, to make these mistakes, to learn from them, and to grow from them. You shouldn’t be penalized for the learning process because, otherwise, you’d be in the class above where you’re currently at.”

Alicia Acosta

Math Teacher, Wilmot Union High School