Elementary

Standards-Based Grading and Reporting FAQs
The 2021-2022 school year is well underway and we are now preparing for the first Quarter Standards Based Report Cards to be shared with families on October 25. In preparation, please find some important information about Standards Based grading to support your understanding of the differences between traditional grading and Standards Based grading practices. 

What is Standard Based reporting? The standards based report card communicates a student’s progress toward mastery of learning targets or standards. 
What is a standard? A standard is a written description of what students should know and be able to do in a particular subject area. 

Where does EA get their standards? Our learning standards come from three different curricula: AERO Standards, Creative Curriculum, and NGSS Science Standards

What are examples of standards? 
A sample standard from AERO Reading Language Arts: 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW SAMPLE

What is the goal of standards-based reporting? The goal is to clearly communicate student learning compared to learning targets. Standards-based reporting aligns with what we know about how students learn. 

We want to be transparent with families about why we assess student work and how we will share this information. Our Report Card Purpose Statement is:

The primary purpose of the Escuela Americana report card is to capture the whole child and communicate, bringing home and school together. The report card documents learning habits separate from academic achievement. Grades reflect what the student understands and is able to do at that point in time, in addition to fostering a growth mindset.

How do traditional letter grades differ from standards-based reporting? 
Traditional grading averages all of the work that a student has done over a semester into one single grade or percentage. Traditional grading often includes other subjective factors like attendance, effort, and attitude, which might influence the academic grade positively or negatively, but has little to do with a child’s academic understanding. 

Standards-based reporting removes extraneous factors and focuses on knowledge, skills and abilities relevant to the subject. Standards-based grading tells us what students have actually learned. Students will now have more measures of excellence. For example, instead of having just one percentage grade for Reading Language Arts, they will have four indicators to show them how they are Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language Usage- rather than just an overall English language grade. 

How is “meeting expectations” defined?Standards-based assessment and reporting seeks to provide more consistency in grading practices. Feedback and grades are tied to learning targets. Teaching teams create common “performance level” rubrics and discuss what “meeting standards” means. We grade and report on how and what your child learns.

EA Elementary Standards Based Grading Scale:4 - Mastery: The solution to the problem is complete and clear. Any error is trivial. The problem is correct and all reasoning is provided. The argument is easy to follow and no corrections are needed.

3- Proficient: The solution displays understanding of the relevant topics. Some small errors may be found and need to be corrected, but no additional instruction is required for understanding. 

2 - Meets with Assistance: Partial understanding is evident, but significant gaps in understanding remain without teacher assistance. One-on-one instruction and follow-up is required.

1 - Not Yet: Fragmentary or no response provided. Insubstantial attempt made on the assignment. There were too many errors to assess. 

N/A - Not Applicable, standard not taught this quarter.

Why change to a new grading system? There are four developments that necessitate change in grading and reporting system: 

1. The growing emphasis on standards and performance assessments makes our previously used reporting practices inadequate. 

2. Students and parents are demanding more and better information about student learning progress. 

3. Advances in technology allow for more efficient reporting of detailed information on student learning. 

4. Grading and reporting are recognized as one of educators' most important responsibilities. It can enhance or destroy a student's desire to learn more than any other educational tool. 

As previously noted, traditional grades are often influenced by behavioral or non-academic factors such as attendance, participation, effort, and late work. When these factors are included it can influence an academic grade and provide a distorted and inaccurate communication of student learning.
If the purpose of grades is to communicate academic achievement, then behavior should not be included in the grade.

Standards-based grading is an intentional way for teachers to track their students' progress and achievements while focusing on helping students learn and reach their highest potential. It is based on students showing signs of mastery or understanding various lessons and skills. Standards-based grading is a way to view student progress based on proficiency levels for identified standards rather than relying on a holistic representation as the sole measure of achievement used in traditional grading methods.

Instead of the traditional percentages-and-letter-grades approach, a standards-based approach considers evidence of learning and informs the learner of their understanding in different ways.

Additionally, our teachers and staff have been trained by Dr. Tom Guskey, a well respected educator, researcher and published author of many Standards Based texts, to help support our transition to our new Standards Based system. Please check out his website for more information: http://tguskey.com/

How will I know how my child is performing compared to other students? EA assesses student progress against rigorous, high-level standards of learning - not students with one another. It may be unrealistic to expect individual students to learn material at the exact same rate or be able to show mastery at the exact same time as their peers. Rather than using grades to compare students to one another, grade reform efforts encourage grades as a means to compare students to themselves, showing growth in their learning over time (Guskey, 2011).

Additionally, EA Elementary students G3-G5 take the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test which gives students results compared to the US population as well as the EA population.

What if the school I am transferring to requires final letter grades for each course?Schools rarely require final letter grades. If an EA student is applying to a school that requires these, we are glad to calculate them based on the standards or make other needed adjustments. 

Will standards-based reporting disadvantage college or university entry? Elementary school report cards do not impact college entry. 

As a school we have talked about growth-mindset when approaching changes. The change from a traditional grading system to a Standards Based system will require all members of our school community, students, faculty and parents, to activate their growth mindset and think about grading in a new way! We are in the second year of transitioning our Elementary School Standards Based report card, and we will share information with you throughout this school year to help you understand our Standards Based grading system.

Escuela Americana Elementary Leadership Team

Dr. Megan Geshel geshel.megan@amschool.edu.sv
Renée Fuller fuller.renee@amschool.edu.sv
Jessica Muonio muonio.jessica@amschool.edu.sv