At Indian Community School, a standards based system of grading and reporting will more accurately and consistently communicate student achievement to students and families. Educational research suggests that establishing clear and measurable academic standards for student learning increases student achievement.  Grades provide feedback to students about their progress toward mastery of the standards.  Students and parents need a precise picture of what learning has been mastered and what learning still needs to occur.  Therefore, grades need to be accurate and meaningful. The use of consistent ICS Learning Targets, based on grade level standards for each subject area, will provide a focus on learning and clear information about students’ progress. This will help each student understand what level of proficiency is needed in order to earn a grade in each subject and grade level.

students at a table, students in an outdoor classroom, students in the garden looking at corn

What is standards based grading?

Grades must be meaningful, consistent, accurate, and supportive of learning.  Students learn best through a system of clear learning targets, quality formative assessment, developmental feedback, and the opportunity to respond to that feedback in order to guide their effort toward higher levels of understanding.  The purpose of grades is to provide a basis of information and feedback to accurately communicate individual student achievement as related to the learning targets.  Standards based grading provides accurate information to students and families on a student’s individual progress and mastery toward meeting grade level standards.

A standards based grading system includes the following guidelines:

  • Grades should be based only on academic standards.

  • Grades will be based on performance on summative assessments.

  • Grades are based on quality assessments and properly recorded evidence of learning.

  • Extra credit will not be given at any time.

  • Students will be allowed multiple opportunities to demonstrate their understanding of learning targets in various ways. 

  • Teachers will determine grade book entries by considering multiple points of data emphasizing the most recent evidence to support their determination.

  • Students will be provided multiple opportunities to practice learning targets independently through homework or other class work. Practice assignments and activities will be consistent with classroom standards for the purpose of providing feedback and will not be included as part of the final grade.

  • Retakes and revisions will be allowed after completing the assigned opportunities for practice.

What is a standards based report card?

The purpose of a report card is to accurately communicate a student’s ongoing achievement and performance toward the mastery of grade level standards.  A standards based report card provides detailed information on how well a student is progressing toward mastery of end-of-year standards for his/her grade level, identifying specific areas of strength as well as areas in need of improvement. Standards based reporting examines each subject area through specific learning targets rather than students receiving one grade that represents multiple criteria, including an average of multiple grades, student behaviors, and work habits.  Providing more detailed information allows parents and students to understand more clearly what learning is expected at each grade level.  With this understanding, parents will be better able to guide and support their child’s learning in specific ways.  

How are grades determined?

A standards based grading system should be reliable and ensure each student's grades accurately reflect his/her level of proficiency toward grade level standards and learning targets.  Grades are based on a student’s performance on summative assessments.  Frequent opportunities are provided for each student along the way through formative assessments to obtain feedback as to his/her progress toward the learning targets.  The teacher responsible for a student's instruction in a particular class shall determine the student's grade based on the student’s performance on summative assessments.  All final decisions about disputed grades will be made by the Head of School following policy and guidelines. 

ICS Grading Scale

The ICS Grading Scale -- Board Policy #4260

At ICS, mastery of the learning targets is assessed using five levels of competency 0-4.  The levels represent the degree to which a student is able to independently demonstrate each essential skill and concept.  On a standards based report card, a “3” is the expected goal for students, which indicates that the student is meeting the requirements of the academic standards for his/her grade level.  A “2” indicates that the student’s progression of skills and information is in the expected range, but still requires support and assistance to meet the requirements of the academic standard for his/her grade level.  The expectation is that most students will achieve a “3” by the end of the year for each grade-level standard.  All standards on a grade-level report card will be addressed by the end of the school year.  (Note: A mark of “N/A” on a report card indicates that the standard has not been adequately introduced, covered, or assessed during the marking period.) 

What are student success skills?  

Factors related to student behaviors that may affect learning are communicated to students and families.  These include participation, work habits, effort, respect, and responsibility.  Student success skills are communicated on quarterly report cards, but are not included within summative assessment or course grades.  In addition to academic grades, a basis of information and feedback about student success skills are utilized to set goals and improve student performance.  These factors are scored separately from a student’s quarterly course grade.

How is traditional grading and standards based grading different?

On a traditional report card, an overall grade is given in each subject. That grade is a combination of homework, tests, work habits, as well as a student’s understanding of subject content. However, the focus tends to be more on assignment completion and missing work instead of understanding.  When a student receives a letter grade on his/her report card, it does not tell the parent, teacher, or student what the student specifically knows and is able to do.

A standards based grading system provides clear and consistent grade-level learning targets for each subject area, focus for the learning activities that students experience, and a method for communicating specific information on how students are making progress toward the standards.  ICS is utilizing a standards based report card, because it focuses more clearly on student learning and evidence, and how to provide important feedback to students to help them reach their goals.  

ICS Student Success Skills chart

The scale for ICS Student Success Skills -- Board Policy #4250

If you have questions about this information, please contact School Administrator, Jason Dropik at 414-525-6189 or jdropik@ics-edu.org, or contact the Director of Instruction, Dr. Melissa Deutsch at 414-525-6195 or mdeutsch@ics-edu.org.