Traditional Grading (TG)

Standards-Based Grading (SBG)

  1. Based on assessment methods (quizzes, tests, homework, projects, etc.).  One grade/entry is given per assessment.
  2. Assessments are based on a percentage system.  Criteria for success may be unclear.
  3. Use an uncertain mix of assessment, achievement, effort and behavior to determine the final grade.  May use late penalties and extra credit.
  4. Everything goes in the grade book - regardless of purpose.
  5. Include every score, regardless of when it was collected.  Assessments record the average - not the best - work.
  1. Based on learning goals and performance standards.  One grade/entry is given per learning goal.
  2. Standards are criterion or proficiency-based.  Criteria and targets are made available to students ahead of time.
  3. Measures achievement only OR separates achievement from effort/behavior.  No penalties or extra credit given.
  4. Selected assessments (tests, quizzes, projects, etc.) are used for grading purposes.
  5. Emphasize the most recent evidence of learning when grading.

Adapted from O’Connor K (2002).  How to Grade for Learning: Linking grades to standards (2nd ed.).  Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.


1.     Students advance upon demonstrated proficiency (rather than seat time).

2.     Competencies are based on enduring understandings and require the transfer of knowledge, skills, and the Universal Constructs to complex situations in and/or across content areas and/or beyond the classroom (Units of learning defined by standards & competencies rather than courses or grade levels).

3.     Assessment is a meaningful and a positive learning experience for students.

4.     Students receive rapid, personalized support based on their individual learning needs.

5.     All learning is validated regardless of when, where, or how students acquired and/or demonstrated the learning

Source: Iowa Department of Education Guidelines for PK-12 CBE (


“Personalized learning is a progressively student-driven model in which students deeply engage in meaningful, authentic, and rigorous challenges to demonstrate desired outcomes” (Kallick & Zmuda, 2017)

Four defining attributes of personalized learning (Kallick & Zmuda, 2017)

  1. Voice “student’s involvement and engagement in the what and the how of learning early in the learning process” (p. 3)
  2. Co-creation “work with the teacher to develop a challenge, problem, or idea; to clarify what is being measured…envision the product…outline an action plan” (p. 3)
  3. Social construction “students build ideas through relationships with others as they theorize and investigate in pursuit of common learning goals” (p. 4).
  4. Self-discovery “process of students coming to understand themselves as learners”

Iowa ASCD Curriculum Leadership Academy 2017

Matt Townsley - | @mctownsley  ß Slides and additional information