Standards-Based Grading FAQs 

Mr. Charles C. Baker

(314) 596-2847

1.  Where do the standards come from?

Each standard a student receives a score for comes from the Algebra II course-level expectations (CLEs) from the MO Dept of Ed or the Functions standards adopted by the district.


2.  How do you know which standards you need to be using on each quiz or test?

A committee of math teachers from the district went through the textbook and the CLEs and aligned each lesson's content with one of the CLEs.  When scoring a quiz, the student's skills are evaluated on each CLEs that is assessed in the lesson and a corresponding letter grade is given for that standard.


3.  If the student's grade only comes from their scores on these standards, how do they                 have a chance to improve their score?

  1. Because each CLE is broadly worded, several lessons' content fall into the umbrella of any given standard.  So, one way to improve a grade on a standard is to score higher the next time that CLE is assessed.
  2. Moreso than "conventional" grading, the focus on standards based grading is determining if a student has learned the content or not.  I allow students to retake quizzes multiple times for chances to prove their competence in the standard.

4.  What's with the 0,1,2,3 and 4?  Why not just a percentage?

An educational researcher named Robert Marzano, (whose research your school district has spent lots of effort training its teachers about) advocates using this rubric for scoring to take away a lot of the baggage associated with letter grades and to more simply communicate to parents and students a student's progress toward any standard.

Using this rubric also helps a student bring up grades once they demonstrate competency of a standard they previously had not met.  

5.  How do you incorporate the district grading scale into this system?

When I give assessments of a standard, I score the student's quiz out of the total number of points and find a percentage.  That percentage is then converted to a district letter grade and then to a value from the 0-4 rubric.

        Ex.  Student scores 8/13 on a quiz for 61.5%, or a D.  In the gradebook student receives a "1," showing they had some skill in the standard.

6.  I scored a 57% on my quiz, but your rubric says I get a 0 because that's an F.  How is that fair?  You're cheating me out of points.

I answer this question by examining what happens over the course of several assessments.  Pretend a student scored 57, 40, 61, 59, 55, and 93 on various standards.  This would come to an average of 60.8, or barely a D.  With Marzano's rubric, the same student scores 0, 0, 1, 0, 0, 4 and averages an .8, or less than a 1, which would be an F, possibly rounded up to a D.  But if a student only passes 2 out of 6 assessments, is it really accurate to claim that he or she is competent in the material?  By reducing the role of outlying scores in the average (the 93 is this case,) a more accurate portrait of a student's skills is the course comes to focus.

This also works to the student's advantage when they score VERY low on an assessment.  An average on a quiz of say, 20%, is very hard to come back from, but if the distance between an F to a D and D to C is the same, improvement on standards that a student previously knew very little in becomes much easier.  It is just as easy to go from 0 to 1 as 3 to 4.




7.  Why don't I get points for all of the homework I'm doing?  That usually is how I pass courses.

From my perspective, standards-based grading takes homework out of the equation for a few reasons.

  1. Sometimes students do not get homework done because they have other priorities at home or homework from another course that they had to decide was more important.  If a student can still show competency in a standard without doing the homework, then returning poor homework scores and failing a student says that the student DID NOT know the material.  
  2. Without standing over a student while he or she completes a homework assignment, a teacher cannot really know if the work is the result of copying from a friend during lunch, a tutor feeding answers, the hard work of a very caring parent, or a student's own efforts.  By basing the grade only on assessments taken in the more controlled environment of the classroom, the legitimacy of a student's work can be more accurately accounted for.  In other words, I can be more certain that YOU did that work.
  3. Homework grades also are sometimes related to behavior or participation grades which reflect nothing on a student's learning and knowledge of a standard.  It does not help a student in Algebra II that in his or her Algebra I course they could not solve equations, but he/she was a really nice kid and never disrupted the class. 

Other information about your child's course can be found on the class facebook page or at