Standards-Based Grading Frequently Asked Questions

Nampa School District Guide to Standards-Based Grading FAQ

A standards-based grading system measures a student’s mastery of content standards by assessing their most recent and consistent level of performance. Thus, a student who may have struggled when they first encountered 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.
In a traditional grading system, a student’s performance over an entire quarter is averaged together. Early quizzes, classwork, or tests that may have been scored low are averaged with more proficient scores later in the course, resulting in a lower overall grade than the current performance indicates.
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 4-point scale, with four 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.
4 Exceeds Student exceeds proficiency of the standard.  
3 Proficient Student demonstrates proficiency of the standard.    
2 Approaching Proficiency Student demonstrates partial proficiency of the standard. 
1 Beginning Student shows readiness and is beginning to learn the standard.
NE - No Evidence No evidence of learning is available for assessment.  

What does NE mean?

“NE” means there is “No Evidence” of learning. There is an insufficient amount of evidence to provide a grade.
A student is considered to be proficient when they have acquired the skill that is described by the standard.
When a student shows in-depth understanding and application of skills beyond proficiency, they are exceeding a standard.
  • Examples of exceeding proficiency may include: applications for real-world use, teaching another person the material, using information to solve problems in a different context, explaining connections between ideas, demonstrating a unique insight, and/or creative application of skills. 
A minimum of three data points in the grade book will be used to demonstrate proficiency on an essential standard. 
Teachers evaluate student performance on learning tasks, including homework, on a daily basis. Teachers analyze student work to determine growth and improvement toward proficiency of a specific skill or content. When assigning a final score, each teacher has the responsibility to take into account all the work a student completes during a quarter or semester. If a student chooses not to do an assignment, not only are they missing an opportunity to practice a skill or apply a concept, they also miss an opportunity to display mastery of an outcome to their teacher. 
***We are currently working with Otus to make sure this is clear for teachers, parents, and students. This will be updated for better alignment for fall 2021.***
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.
If a student receives 1’s or 2’s, it means his/her work is not yet meeting the standards. Keep in mind that learning begins at a “1”. Students need to build their skills and practice to become proficient. For those students who continue to struggle to meet the essential standards, a number of academic interventions will be offered. One benefit of standards-based grading is that areas where students need support become clearly evident and intervention can be specifically tailored to individual student needs.
Standards-based grading gives students ownership of their learning, creating an awareness that leads to self-motivation and self-advocacy, and with the academic skills to meet the rigor of college courses.

NSD's secondary standards-based grading pilot began in the 2019-20 school year and had representation at the middle and high school levels. Schools at the elementary level have been participating in standard-based grading since 2014. Currently, all schools, with the exception of CTE and some Special Education courses, are implementing standards-based grading.

There are six big ideas around standards-based grading. 

  • Grades and reports should be based on clearly agreed-upon essential standards. 
  • Evidence used for grading should be valid. 
  • Grading should be based on established success criteria. 
  • Not everything should be included in grades. 
  • Avoid grading based on (mean) averages. 
  • Focus on academic achievement, and report behavior factors separately. 
There is a common concern that standards-based grading may negatively impact student's admission into a college or a university.  Standards-based grading does not negatively impact a student's admission into a post-secondary institution. In fact, recent research has shown that colleges and universities value standards-based grading because it provides clarity on what students have learned academically and socially.  More information can be found at this link