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What's Coming - Standards-Based Report Cards

What's Coming - Standards-Based Report Cards

The Journey Towards Standards Based Grading

Timeline 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22, 2022-23, 2023-24 Projection, 2024-25 Projection

Standards Based Grading for Learning Habits

In many traditional grading systems, behaviors such as attendance, tardiness, class participation or the ability to complete work on time are factored into final grades with scores from tests and assignments. While attendance and class participation are important to success in school, averaging together behaviors and academics makes it harder to determine where students are excelling or struggling. For example, has the student failed to understand critical concepts or skills, or did they simply not turn in their homework on time? Is it a learning problem or a behavior problem? In order for us to move to standards based grading (which grades students only on their understanding of the standard) learning habits need to be monitored and reported separately from academics.

Student work habits, behaviors and character traits are essential to academic success. Great Falls Public Schools has created a set of learning habits that teachers use to evaluate student progress.  Students will be graded with a C for consistently demonstrates, a S for sometimes demonstrates or a NY for not yet demonstrating.

The report card will look like the following:

Teachers will be using this rubric to score your child on the report cards.

What Is Standards-Based Grading?

Standards highway sign
Standards-based grading links intentional instruction with learning targets. It gives an accurate measure of the student's ability and allows for teachers, students and families to see the progression of skills and growth. Standards-based grading requires the use of data to drive instruction, provide specific feedback, and track student progress and achievement.

What is the purpose of Standards-Based Grading?

Goals highway sign
Standards-based grading shows grade level skills a student has learned and still needs to learn.


  • Provides feedback on student progress
  • Teachers use data to adapt instruction to meet individual needs
  • Grades reflect mastery of grade level material or how well students understand the material presented in class
  • Better prepares students for college and career

How does Standards-Based Grading differ from traditional letter grades?

Knowledge highway sign
Standards-based grading informs us about what students know and have learned. Standards-based grading measures a student’s knowledge of grade level content over time by reporting the most recent, consistent level of performance. For example, a student might struggle in the beginning of a grading period with new content but may demonstrate proficiency by the end of the grading period. In traditional grading, the student’s performance for the whole grading period would be averaged, and early assessment scores that were low would be averaged together with proficient assessment scores. The result of the scores averaged would be a lower grade. When a percentage system is applied, it can be misleading. In standards-based grading, a student who reaches proficiency would be reported proficient, and the grade would reflect current performance level.

Why change?

Traditional grading often measures many different factors such as homework, extra credit, attendance, behavior, etc....and sometimes compares how well students do in relation to their classmates. Standards-based grading measures how well an individual student is doing in relation to each grade-level standard or skill. Standards-based grading gives students and parents specific information on what the student knows and what the student can do. It eliminates many of the factors that can distort the final traditional grade as a true indicator of mastery. It clears up the uncertainty about what the grade means. The goal is to do all we can to make sure that a grade is the best representation of how well a student knows the content.

What are the benefits of Standards-Based Grading?

students in library playing a game and celebrating
For Students

  • Grades reflect how well students understand the material presented and practiced in class
  • Learning targets are clearly defined and aligned to state standards
  • Multiple opportunities and ways through which to demonstrate proficiency
  • Ability to monitor their own progress toward the achievement of specified targets
  • Specific feedback on progress helps build self-esteem, pride and motivation




mom adjusting son
For Parents

  • Grades have more meaning
  • Awareness of what your student knows and is able to do
  • Ability to see the learning progression
  • Knowledge of what areas your student needs more support
  • Empowerment to increase your student's confidence and to actively participate in your student's learning goals




male African American teacher at the carpet instructing small group of children
For Teachers

  • Knowledge of exactly where students are in the learning continuum
  • Each graded assignment has the same aligned standards and expectations
  • Assessment results help determine when students need more support and when they need challenging work