Statement of Purpose:
On This Page
The SRG Team
SRG Members Page
Standards Reference Grading Expectations
1. Identify essential (guaranteed & viable) curriculum in each course in
which grade level proficiency is required to earn a passing grade in
2. Establish grade level formative assessments for all essential curriculum.
3. Assure essential curriculum standards, benchmarks, etc. are not averaged
for grading purposes.
4. Assure extra time and support for student mastery of the essential
5. Establish directive rather than invitational interventions.
6. Assure the essential curriculum and the formative assessments and the
directive response plan are systematic by the team as a whole rather than at the discretion of the individual teacher.
7. Establish guidelines for how long and how many interventions (multiple student opportunities to demonstrate learning) will be allowed before summative documentation
of course failure.
8. Establish an administrative and guidance support plan.
9. Establish a communication plan for parents and students regarding therequired components and support structures of the proficiency model.
1. 21st Century Students
2. 21st Century Skills
3. Research-based Learning and Assessment Practices
4. Harnessing New Technologies
5. Communities of Practice
Professional learning communities are the foundation of the Standards Reference Grading. In schools where true learning communities operate, teachers work in collaborative teams with a focus on learning. Essential learning outcomes are delineated in the district curriculum maps.
Teachers understand the standards, clarify the criteria for success, and ensure inter-raterreliability for determining proficiency when assessing student work. It is important that both teachers and students know the criteria for success. A cycle of quality instruction based on the identified essential learning targets and frequent assessment with feedback that moves learners forward is established. Schools design a systematic response to students’ need for additional time and support for learning. Schools also provide ways to enrich and extend learning for students who already meet expectations.
The Volusia County School district continually evolves in its implementation of learning communities, problem-solving, and response to intervention. Research and best practices lead us to a converging path. Standards Reference Grading emerged to capture the manner in which these powerful initiatives work together to provide the best opportunities for all students to learn. As the model develops, there will be numerous opportunities to engage in conversations to deepen understanding of effective practices for determining student progress. Curriculum, instruction, assessment, and grading must align to ensure that the system works for students.
The following sections present a brief explanation of how the Standards Reference Grading emerged from the knowledge and experiences of many educators across the district. The section also summarizes research on grading practices that contributed to the ideas presented for consideration and discussion at the district and school level. Professional development and facilitated discussions for interested groups will continue the process of coming to a better understanding of the curriculum, instruction, assessment, and grading cycle.
The Standards Reference Grading emphasizes the new mission of proficiency for all rather than the sort and select model. This initiates discussion on changing the current view of curriculum, instruction, assessment and grading. Learning communities have already started the transition to a more standards-based approach to instruction. Changing assessment practices and rethinking grading are more difficult, yet essential to the notion of proficiency. Schools can no longer be places where some succeed at learning while others face inevitable failure
Assessment practices must support the learning of all students, helping them to master the required standards. Formative assessments - assessments for learning - provide descriptions of student performance, reveal changes in student learning over time, and inform not only the instructional decisions of teachers and school leaders, but of students themselves. There is a solid body of research showing the effect of formative assessment on student achievement. Five reviews of the research in this area (Black & Wiliam, 1998; Crooks, 1988; Kluger& DeNisi, 1996; Natriello, 1987; Nyquist, 2003) synthesized more than 4,000 research studies undertaken during the last 40 years. The conclusion was clear. When implemented well, formative assessments can effectively double the speed of student learning (Wiliam, 2007). The Educational Testing Service’s Learning and Teaching Research Center suggest the following nonnegotiable components of an effective formative assessment system (Leahy, Lyon, Thompson, & William, 2005)
There is a solid body of research showing the effect of formative assessment on student achievement. Five reviews of the research in this area (Black & Wiliam, 1998; Crooks, 1988; Kluger& DeNisi, 1996; Natriello, 1987; Nyquist, 2003) synthesized more than 4,000 research studies undertaken during the last 40 years. The conclusion was clear. When implemented well, formative assessments can effectively double the speed of student learning (Wiliam, 2007). The Educational Testing Service’s Learning and Teaching Research Center suggest the following nonnegotiable components of an effective formative assessment system (Leahy, Lyon, Thompson, & William, 2005)
Classroom assessment for learning turns the classroom assessment process and results into an instructional intervention designed to increase, not merely monitor, student confidence, motivation, and learning (Stiggins, Arter, Chappuis and Chappuis, 2004; Wiliam, 2007). A unique feature of the assessment for learning process is that it acknowledges the critical importance of instructional decisions made by students working in collaboration with their teachers. In this case, assessment provides students with information about their own achievement status when they need it. Students use assessment information to see their current success and to understand what comes next for them.
Another important feature of assessment for learning is reliance on repeated self-assessments, each of which instructs the learner on how to improve performance on the next opportunity. Assessments for learning are built on carefully designed learning progressions written in teacher-, student-, and family-friendly versions so that the path of learning becomes clear. Assessments become more than one-time events at the end of the teaching. They become part of the learning process by keeping students posted on their progress and encouraging them to continue striving.
For a teacher who wants his or her students to learn big ideas and gain long-term understanding, assessment means being keenly aware of what students know and understand, having sufficient evidence of this understanding, and offering a grade that accurately reflects this. Few teachers would disagree with this description of assessment, but somewhere along the way, the process of grading has lost its focus on what is important; evaluating what students know, understand, and are able to do.
Many current grading practices are not aligned with the philosophy of learning communities and assessment for learning. Instead of achieving the primary purpose of grading which is to accurately communicate student achievement, grading practices are inconsistent from school to school and teacher to teacher. Grades are inaccurate because they are an average of unlike tasks and expectations. Grades are extrinsic, not intrinsic, motivators often working to the detriment of less successful students. Grading is a time-based not a learning-based system which expects all students to learn at the same pace. Through the work of learning communities and investigation of the current research on grading, the conclusion is clear - ineffective, outdated grading practices must change! Research in the area of grading is quite consistent in recommending how current practices need to change. Several noted researchers have provided guidelines for educators on more effective grading practices.