Standards Based Learning and Standards Based Grading from the trenches – part 3

This post is the third in a series about my journey with Standards Based Learning and Grading.

Removing the Behavior

Ready to start making a change?  One of the easiest ways to start reforming grading practices is to remove the behaviors or process.  Encouraging positive behavior is a very important component of what we do as educators, but process has no place averaged in with proficiency or mastery of learning targets or standards.  When we muddy the grading waters with behaviors, we render the grade meaningless.  Our goal should be to accurately and clearly report the proficiency level of our students regarding standards at that moment in time on a report card, along with a separate process report explaining classroom behaviors.


Once you remove the behaviors and compliance from the grade, what to do in order to teach important life skills like responsibility, caring, and respect? Helping students become good citizens is high on my priority list.  We work together to develop good study habits and collaborative skills.  We discuss work ethic, timeliness, goal setting, and meeting expectations; these items are simply not included in their academic grade.  Forming relationships with kids and creating class culture will contribute much more to positive behavior than a grading system that is punitive.  When kids are acting irresponsibly or inappropriately, it is time to step in and guide them, not give a participation grade.  We have to assist our students to become the adults we know they can be.  We must model the behaviors we want to see, demand the same behaviors from our students, and lead them to make good decisions.  Our students bring us their best each day, we have to meet them where they are in order to move forward.


We work to facilitate learners, not to build compliant robots.  The professions and jobs that our students will fulfill do not require factory model, inside the box learners.  They will need innovative creators who will move this world forward into the next era.  If our students are encouraged to be compliant, maintain the status quo, and keep learning safe, how will we progress?  We must demand more, drive learning, and challenge our thinking.  As lead learners, we must continually grow ourselves and model the behaviors we want to see in our students.  Model learning.  Take risks.  Demonstrate timeliness.  Demand critical thinking and problem solving.  And above all…form relationships.  Show students that you care about their growth and development.

I have this sign hanging in the front of my classroom to always keep our focus on what is most important…

image from venspired.com


Many times, our world seems to lack caring, thoughtful relationships, and promotes irresponsible, disrespectful behavior.  I would like to model something different for our next generation.  I would like to show them how their behaviors are always their choice, and that these choices impact their future.  Grading has no place in these discussions and lessons. Life is not something that is done to you…make sure your impact is a positive one.

6 Replies to “Standards Based Learning and Standards Based Grading from the trenches – part 3”

  1. I’m hoping that in an upcoming post you’ll share what sbg grading looks like. Logistically, how do you enter standards and grades into the database gradebook? I’m behind the theory, but cannot figure out how to make it work under the policies of my school. I’m supposed to post two grades per week.

  2. Thank you for your discussion of grading. We need to change how we grade because our current system doesn’t teach students to value their learning or be self directed. I’m looking forward to future posts that you will add, including more specific strategies that you have found successful for standards based grading and differentiated instruction.

  3. Removing behavioral grading is the most important first step, in my opinion, towards an enlightened grading policy in schools. Too often grades are used as punishment and its struggling students who suffer the most. Unfortunately when behaviors are subjectively measured and numbers assigned punitively an inescapable situation occurs- one in which the student is doomed to failure exactly when they need the most help. I applaud you for writing such a well written and descriptive post about how important it is to shift away from this traditional practice.

  4. I talked to my students on Wednesday about character building. The difference between who you are and what you can do. The former being infinitely more important than the latter.

  5. Garnet,

    Once you have the conversation going about SBG with your students, use the same language for behavioral expectations. You can offer them a score, but in grade book, it becomes the same as a “formative” assessment…..it doesn’t impact their grade, but they get important feedback that can start a conversation and communicate (as a grade should) to Ss about expectations, behaviors. I have a set of “I can statements” that apply only to behaviors.

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