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Schoolwide Structures for Standards-Based Grading

A parent, a student, a teacher, and the principal from Casco Bay High School in Portland, ME, discuss the structures necessary to reap the benefits of standards-based grading.

This video accompanies the book Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools through Student-Engaged Assessment.


- We know that students are gonna meet standards at different rates, so then it’s incumbent on us as instructors and educators to make sure we have different means to support students. So we have lots of structures built into our school day and our school year that both give the kids who need more time and support, more time and support, and those who are moving quicker the opportunity to really fly high.

- Once I’ve sort of became clear with the standards and became clearer with students about here are the models, here are the exemplars, here are the rubrics. This is what we’re trying to do. It was like, well, how do I know how you’re doing at that and how do you know how you’re doing at that outside of waiting for even a progress report? Because that comes pretty late in the game. So we instituted doing some entrance and exit tickets of here’s the target, where do you feel like you’re at in the target today? And then I can take those, I can look at them. I can start to sort and shift and go, “Huh, ooh. “I’ve got 60% of the people still feel like they don’t own it yet, they’re struggling with it.” I’ve got to adjust my teaching tomorrow. I’ve got to do something differently for those 60 people. I’ve got 40 who are like, “Please stop talking, I know what I’m doing.” So I’ve got to give them something to do that’s different, that’s pushing them into their Exceeds work.

- When you get a two on something, how do you go from a two to a three?

- A few different ways. One way is through Infinite Campus, which is a website that we use that have the teachers all put their grades in on there and the grades are under those standards so we know which standards we’re meeting and which ones we aren’t. Well, during this junior year, we have to write a white paper and my teacher put specific feedback on the paper for me to get a higher grade. Using the rubric to look at that just as a reference and then going back to my paper and rewriting it helped a lot for me to get a higher grade on that paper.

- Do you remember specifically what you said?

- I was talking about corporate average fuel economy standards.

- And which standards did that connect to or which targets? Do you remember?

- History knowledge and government and civics and government. So those were the standards.

- That’s great. For some students who have never, ever gotten less than a B or something in traditional grade systems. Like, “Oh my god, I’m failing now!”

- Yeah.

- And it isn’t that you’re failing, it’s just you’re not yet meeting the standard. You have more chances to do so. But that, I think, is a tough psychological shift for students to recognize that I’m gonna have to live in the uncertainty of Partially Meets more than I might in another system.

- So it’s that piece that you were talking about earlier about, “Yeah, we’re all twos. “Of course we’re all twos!” What do you think, you’re...

- Born a four?

-Yeah, right! I’d be out of a job, is what I’d be telling them. If you walked in the room, there’d be no reason to be here. No, we’re all two. We’re all in this trying to get to three. That’s why we’re here. And then it also, I think, creates a collective sense of we’re in it together. And it’s okay to be a two and we’re gonna get there and we’re gonna help each other and we’re gonna...

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