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How is This Practice More Equitable?

This system of feedback and assessment is more equitable for our students because it...

“The Case Against Standards-Based Grading – And How to Respond To It” by Douglas Reeves (2014).

Argument One – SBG is just grade inflation. Kids get higher grades for doing less work.

Response: Often kids will get higher grades in a SBG system, but that’s not because they do less work. When a teacher’s response to missing or inadequate work is not a zero, but rather the requirement that students complete the task, or resubmitting it after considering the feedback, that often yields higher levels of achievement. That is not grade inflation – that’s work inflation. More work almost always means higher grades.

Argument Two – Not using a 100-point scale gives kids an inaccurate picture of what their skills are.

Response: The claim that the difference between A, B, C and D is ten “points” – 90, 80, 70, and 60 – but that the consequence for failing to turn work in is zero – 60 points lower than a D – is sort of crazy, and too often causes students to withdraw completely. GPAs have been calculated with a four-point scale for more than a century – it’s hardly a new idea, and it’s far more accurate than the 100-point scale on which too many schools rely.

Argument Three – SBG isn’t fair to kids who get things done right, the first time, in a timely manner.

Response: SBG rewards work ethic. That doesn’t mean finishing work quickly, but rather finishing work – sometimes after several drafts – well. The workplace model of the 21st Century is not, “Here’s the work boss. It’s not very good, but at least it’s on time.” Rather, the model in every quality-focused workplace involves production, submission, feedback, improvement, and resubmission.

  • Places the focus on individual student learning instead of competition, and;
  • Separates a student's behaviors from their academic proficiency, and;
  • Provides students with specific, actionable, and meaningful feedback designed to improve performance, and;
  • Allows students to demonstrate mastery over time and apply their learning in real-world situations, and;
  • Establish clarity and consistency for all stakeholders (teachers, students, and families), and;
  • Challenges students to set realistic, relevant goals for themselves which they track over time.
    • McMillan (2009), Synthesis of Issues & Implications for Practice, via Guskey (2019), What We Know About Grading. ASCD. 
    • Thanks to George Mason HS in VA!
Steilacoom High School Grading Protocol
Grading for Learning