Move to Standards-Based Grading Under Way

The Nampa School District is excited to begin the move toward standards-based grading. The system will be piloted this year at East Valley and Lone Star middle schools and in several courses at the high schools, and will be adopted districtwide in fall 2020. Elementary schools have been participating in standards-based grading since 2014.

Because grades in a traditional grading system are averaged over an entire quarter, and teachers may assign points for behavior or extra credit, a student’s true understanding of a concept can be masked and grades inflated.

A standards-based grading system, on the other hand, measures a student’s mastery of content standards by assessing their most recent and consistent level of performance. Standards-based grading more clearly communicates how students are performing on a set of defined learning targets called standards and identifies what a student knows, or is able to do, in relation to the pre-established targets. Thus, a student who may struggle when they first encounter new material at the beginning of a course may still be able to demonstrate mastery of the standard by the end of a grading period.

Traditional Grading System

Standards Based

An emphasis on averaging a percentage score over the grading period.

Emphasis on looking at the most recent evidence of student work to determine a grade.

Scores on quizzes, tests, projects, attendance, behavior, or other criteria are added and divided to determine a percentage up to 100.

Scores on assessments are given on a 5-point scale, with five deviations between scores, based on a clearly defined performance rubric.

Points are often added or deducted based on the student’s behavior, work completion or participation.

No points are added or taken off. Students are graded based on what they know and are able to do.

Student behavior is often mixed in with academics to determine the grade.

Student behavior is reported separately based on a specific set of criteria.

Teachers determine their own criteria for what constitutes an “A”, based on a variety of factors.

Teachers work collaboratively to determine proficient work on the standards using a clear rubric.

At the end of each semester, standards-based grades at the high school level will be converted to traditional A/B/C/D/F grades. The GPA scale for Nampa School District is the same as any other Idaho district; grades from other schools will transfer to our system and our grades will transfer out. A GPA looks exactly the same in a traditional grading system and a standards-based system.

To learn more about standards-based grading, visit