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Standards-Based Grading


 Why Standards-Based Grading (SBG)?

After several years of examining research on assessment and implementing gradual changes to our traditional grading model, TNCS adopted SBG school-wide in the 2017-2018 school year. Far more than the traditional grading model, SBG keeps the focus on learning. We believe that SBG helps us to focus on what is right with a student’s work, not what is wrong. It helps us to meet students where they are and guide them to higher levels of mastery. It helps us to demonstrate that learning is a process, not a product. And it helps us to live up to one of our key principles – “As fast as you can, as slow as you must.”


 How is SBG different from the traditional grading model?

 Does TNCS still focus on student skills (time management, organization, etc…) if they are not part of a student’s grade?

Student skills are an important component of success both in school and beyond graduation.  However, we don’t want to punish a student’s grade simply because they have not yet developed certain skills.  Every teacher at TNCS incorporates student skills into their classroom to help students grow in these areas.  Teachers collaborate with one another to develop successful strategies for students who may need additional assistance.  In addition to narrative reports and advisor conferences, we encourage open communication between parents and classroom teachers about their child’s progress in student skills.


 What does a SBG report look like?

In contrast to a traditional progress report, which often only shows a letter or number, an SBG report provides much more detailed information about a student’s progress in each of their classes. Below is a sample of information that might show up on a student progress report.

Example of a Traditional Progress Report:

While the above report provides a letter grade to indicate progress, it does not provide any other details about progress towards specific topics or skills. The standards-based progress report below provides specific information about progress towards learning objectives. The numbers on the 4-point scale indicate:

  • 4- Advanced understanding of the learning objective
  • 3- Proficient understanding
  • 2- Developing understanding
  • 1- Beginning understanding

Standards-Based Grading Report:

 Will this impact my student’s chances of getting into college?

No. Since we moved to SBG, TNCS graduates have been accepted into excellent colleges and universities across America. Students still receive grades for their courses, which are sent to college admissions offices on a TNCS transcript. TNCS also has an excellent college counseling program to help students and parents navigate the admissions process.


 Further reading: