Standards based grading

  • Community Consolidated School District 89 is committed to ensuring that every single student learns at a high level. Using a standards-based grading philosophy allows teachers, students, and parents to better understand what students know and are able to do. CCSD 89 wants to improve student achievement for all students in every classroom every day; research supports standards-based grading as a basis of communication that will help students learn more effectively through better feedback. 

    “The primary goal of grading and reporting is communication. Grading and reporting are integral parts of the instructional process. When done well, they provide vital information to students, parents, and other interested persons that can be used to enhance both teaching and learning. Grading and reporting certify attainment of learning goals, identify where additional work is needed and provide a basis for improvement efforts.”- Thomas Guskey and Robert Marzano


    What is Standards-Based Grading (SBG)?

    In a standards-based grading system, teachers report what students know and are able to do in relation to the Common Core and Illinois State Standards. The system includes:

    • The improvement of student achievement of required learning outcomes in all content areas,
    • The mastery of defined learning outcomes instead of the accumulation of points,
    • The reporting of student achievement toward meeting learning outcomes at a given time by analyzing recent trend information based on various forms of evidence,
    • A record-keeping system that provides teachers with information that allows them to adjust learning practices to meet the needs of students, and
    • A system that encourages student reflection and responsibility

    In order to have consistent practices in all buildings, all staff will report summative grades three times per year, using a trimester system. 

    What are standards?

    Standards are statements about what students should know and be able to do within each content area, at each grade level, adopted from the Illinois State Standards and Common Core Standards.

    Common language

    CCSD 89 has made the commitment to assess students’ ability based on their acquisition of the learning standard. In grades K-5, students will be assessed using standards-based grading and receive a standards-based report card.  Students in grades 6-8 will be assessed using a hybrid model of standards-based grading and traditional grade reporting for report cards. This hybrid model will help prepare for the transition to high school where traditional grades are given on the report card. 

    All teachers will assess students using common language and expectations for mastery. Below is the common language that will be used by all teachers when reporting standards-based:

    Exceeds (E) – Consistently exceeds standard – Student consistently demonstrates an understanding of concepts, skills, and processes and independently applies them to different contexts. (I can always do it and transfer it)

    Meets (M) Consistently meets standard – Student is proficient at demonstrating an understanding of concepts, skills, and processes. (I can always do it)

    Progressing (P)– Making progress toward standard – Student sometimes demonstrates an understanding of concepts, skills, and processes and may require support. (I can sometimes do it)

    Below (B)– Making minimum progress toward standard – Student has not yet demonstrated an understanding of concepts, skills, and processes and requires consistent support. (I am working on this)


    More information 

    A brief video overview of Standards-based grading

    Standards-based grading frequently asked questions in CCSD 89 (2013)

    Sample report cards