A Higher Standard for Grading

Submitted By:
Didi Anofienem, Ed.M. Candidate, Klingenstein Center, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY

Making Grades Matter: Standards-Based Grading in a Secondary PLC by Matt Townsley and Nathan L. Wear
SolutionTree, March 13, 2020

In Making Grades Matter: Standards-Based Grading in a Secondary PLC, Townsley and Wear lay out a plan for initiating standards-based grading within a school or district through purposeful collaboration between working teams. The authors propose a definition of standards-based grading focused on three principles: 1) grades should reflect a student's current learning; 2) homework should be formative; and 3) resubmissions and retakes can support variable rates of learning. They make the argument for standards-based grading due, in part, to its tendency to develop when teachers work together in a professional learning community that intentionally seeks to improve its practices and uses only evidence-based practices. Townsley and Wear suggest that learning outcomes, or standards, are the basis of communicating students’ progress and that numerical grades stemming from arbitrary policies and accumulating points do not adequately support or reflect student learning. The text is also beneficial because of its case studies of multiple schools in different districts that successfully implemented standards-based grading, along with its sample assessments, guides, templates for parent communication, grading policies, and gradebooks in different subjects. Making Grades Matter: Standards-Based Grading in a Secondary PLC provides a demonstration of the evidence supporting this grading approach and illustrations of its practice in applicable real-world settings.

Teaching Practice
Science of Learning