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Standards Based Grading

While standards based learning and grading have been one of the pillars of our school from the start, we have revised our approach this year to better support and communicate learning for all students. The standards based grading approach has been implemented for all classes at HFM PTECH.

What is standards based grading?

This means when a student completes an assignment, they are not receiving points based on completion.  Instead the assignment is used to determine the level on one or more key learning goals, called strands, for the course.  For example, in algebra classes, we have 5 key strands for the year:

  1. Manipulate equations/expressions/inequalities and solve for variables (Manipulation & Solving)
  2. Reasoning with and Interpreting Data/application problems (Reasoning/Interpreting)
  3. Graphing/Modeling
  4. Construct viable arguments and critique reasoning of others (Arguments)
  5. Precision and Numeracy

How is student work scored?Image of a ladder with four people climbing it. The lowest is labeled beginner. The second is labeled developing. The next is labeled proficient. The highest is labeled exceeds expectations.

Teachers use student work to determine what level of learning a student is currently at: Beginning, Developing, Proficient, or Exceeds Expectations.

We use 1-4 for shorthand, but these are not points. So when a student earns a 2, it is not a 2 out of 4, but means they are Developing.

In the first few assessments, the students may receive a lot of support as teachers walk them through the new processes, explicitly teach new skills, and help them gain confidence. Because of this support, they are not really able to show Proficiency or Exceeding Expectations yet. As the supports are pulled away, they will be able to do so and demonstrate the higher levels. Every learning goal is assessed multiple times so students have opportunities to show their growth.

Levels (numbers 1-4) are not averaged over time, so no student will be punished for starting out at a beginning level. Some students may progress quickly up the ladder to a 4, while others may need more time. What matters is that they learn and grow. By the end of the quarter, students should aim to be at a 3 or 4 for most learning goals. The focus is on monitoring and communicating learning.


I am beyond proficient and can apply this knowledge/skill to new/unfamiliar situations, connect it beyond this course, and/or teach it to another person.


I am proficient in this learning goal and can perform the skill or demonstrate the knowledge with very few errors.


I am making progress in this learning goal, but I am still making significant mistakes.


I am just beginning to learn this goal.


I have not submitted any evidence of this learning.

How do I know how my student is doing in class?

Feel free to ask your student to show you their work.  You may see comments, rubrics, or other feedback which should give you a better feel for if they are on track.  Also, the gradebook in Schoology will no longer show useful information for determining their progress, because grades are not determined by accumulation of points, but by how students are progressing on a learning goal.  To monitor their progress, you will have to look at the Mastery section.  This will show each learning goal and their levels so far.  For example, this is what one student might see for their learning progress on a strand in science class:

As is expected, the student began at a level 2 (Developing) but over the course of the quarter has shown growth.  At this point the student is showing they are reaching a level four (Exceeds Expectations) for the Scientific Inquiry strand.

How do I know if my student is missing work?

While the grade book is no longer a useful tool for finding out a grade, it will still allow students to see if they owe overdue work.  Most often, a zero appearing in the grade book means an assignment was not submitted.  Please speak to individual teachers to discuss late or missing work.

How are grades determined at the end of the quarter?

At the end of a quarter, every teacher will look at the progress students have made in the class by looking at where they are on each strand.  Using the following guidelines, a single grade will be assigned for the course.  However, this grade will not tell the whole story.  We will be including a standards based report card as well to communicate individual strengths and areas for growth.

A — All 4’s in assessed strands.

A- — Mostly 4’s, up to two 3’s, (no 1’s or 2’s)

B+ —Almost all 3’s and 4’s (at least two 4’s), No more than one 2 (no 1’s)

B — Mostly 3’s (may include one 4), up to one 2 (no 1’s)

B- — Mostly 3’s, up to two 2’s (no 1’s)

C+ — Mostly 2’s, (no 1’s)

C — Mostly 2’s, up to one 1

D — Mostly 2’s with less than half 1’s

F — At least half 1’s

What about professional skills?

This year, we will be monitoring and reporting Professional Skills separately from academic goals. As a PTECH school, we are looking to prepare all students for successful careers in our pathways. In collaboration with our business partners, we have identified the following Professional Skill Strands that we will use in all classes:

  1. Personal Accountability
  2. Team Operations and Communication
  3. Time and Task Management
  4. Respect for Self, Others, and School

To help further distinguish these skill from our course academic goals, students will receive scores of Novice, Apprentice, and Professional for each of these strands.

Will this prepare my student kid for the Regent’s Exam?

All teaching and learning at PTECH is designed to meet state, national or industry student learning standards.  For any course that results in a Regents Exam, the projects will align with the appropriate standards. Our commitment to Standards Based Grading will allow teachers to better target and address areas where students struggle and need extra help.