• Standards-Based vs a Traditional Report Card


    Standards-Based Report Card

    Traditional Report Card

    How are the report cards different?

    Subject areas such as reading and math are sub-divided into standards sets which identify what a child needs to learn or master.

    Grades are given for each subject area such as reading, math, science or an isolated skill such as ‘computes accurately’.

    How are grades determined?

    Grades reflect the level of proficiency on various standards sets for each subject area.

    Students’ level of proficiency is based on teacher observations, performance assessments, and summative assessments.

    Proficiency levels focus on the end of the year goals for each grade level.  As performance increases grades reflect the new level of mastery.

    Grades reflect an averaging of scores to determine a number grade for a subject area.


    Students’ scores are derived from combining practice assignments, teacher observations and tests.


    Grades from one term may be separate from another term.  You can’t change them if the child’s performance improves.

    What is the advantage to each type of grading system?

    Grades are based on the level of achievement the student attained at the end of the teaching cycle for each standard.

    Parents can see which standards students have mastered and which ones they need more work on in larger content areas such as reading and math.

    Standards-based reporting creates more consistency among teachers at the same grade level.

    Homework completion and work habits are reported separately from mastery of concepts and skills.

    Most adults understand this type of grading system from their own experiences as students.


    Grades can be raised by doing extra credit, which may inflate the grade without accurately reflecting what the student knows.


    Giving a zero grade for missing assignments lowers a student’s grade disproportionately; the grade then does not accurately reflect their knowledge or skills.


    What are the benefits of separating work habits from achievement?

    Both are assessed, but reported on separately.  This provides a more accurate picture of a child’s true achievement.

    When combined, grades can be overinflated and do not provide an accurate picture of a child’s achievement.

    What are the disadvantages to this type of grading system?

    Change takes time.  It will be important to build knowledge and understanding of everyone involved.

    Students are being scored on assignments before they have had sufficient practice to expect mastery.

    The grade summarizing a content area such as reading or math doesn’t tell the parent which standards the child knows or does not know.