Frequently Asked Questions
Many of the questions below were asked at our Standards Referenced Grading parent information sessions. If you have additional questions, please send them to email@example.com.
Behavior and Work Ethics
Consistency in Grading
Evaluation of the System
Fine Arts and PE Grading
Grade Conversion (GPA, College transcripts)
Student Impact/Students with special needs
What is Standards-Referenced Grading?
In education, the term standards-referenced refers to instructional approaches that are aligned to learning standards —i.e., written descriptions of what students are expected to know and be able to do at a specific stage of their education. In other words, standards-referenced refers to the use of learning standards to guide what gets taught and assessed in schools.
What are standards?
Standards are statements about what students should know & be able to do at each grade level. The Kansas State Department of Education posts adopted standards at the following site:How is standards-referenced grading different than what we're currently doing?
Traditionally, many elements are combined to determine your child’s grade – test scores, quizzes, completed homework, classroom participation, coming to school on time, extra credit – then, the average of the quarter or semester’s work equates into a percentage for a grade.
Standards-referenced grading separates those elements. Parents will be able to see specifically if their child needs help with an academic concept, or if he or she can’t remember to turn in homework. Standards-referenced grading measures a student’s mastery of grade-level standards by prioritizing the most recent, consistent level of performance.
What are the advantages of SRG?
Improved communication and additional feedback for parents, students and teachers - parents and students will see areas of academic strength and weaknesses in the grade book rather than seeing a test score or homework assignment and wondering what the next steps might be. Teachers will know which standards they need to re-teach. Students will know which standards they need additional learning opportunities and/or practice.
How is this different compared to the way students were already assessed in elementary school?
Students will continue to have assessments as they have in the past. However, assessments will now focus on certain standards/targets and students will know where they are in their progression of learning the target.
Is this new grading system going into effect in middle/high school?
Yes. This system will be implemented at the middle school level in the 2020-2021 school year and at the high school level in the 2021-2022 school year.
How will other districts understand the grades?
When a student transfers, their records are sent upon request from the new school. Each student’s progress report will include a section explaining how to determine what an SRG number score means for the student’s letter grade at the new school.
Who else is using this system?
A few of the districts using this system are Topeka, Andover, Salina, Des Moines, Iowa and Omaha, NE.
What are the behavior/work habit targets?
The targets can be found on our “Parents & Students” tab in the Elementary Standards link under the Standards Referenced Grading section of this site: www.usd259.org/grading
Why was work ethics removed from grading standards?
We believe behavior/work habits are so important, we are separating them from the academic score. This ensures our academic scores truly reflect what students know and can do academically. This also provides a way for specific, valuable feedback to be given for behavior/work habits. At the secondary level, these types of standards/targets are called Employability Skills.
Will all teachers grade the same?
Teachers will use both obtrusive (written) and unobtrusive (verbal, informal, etc.) assessments. The expectations for meeting mastery of the standards will be the same; however, the way teachers assess may differ.
How do we make sure all students are meeting their grade level if each student has different goals by the end of the year?
All students in a grade level have grade level standards. The goal for all students is to meet these standards by the end of the year.
Will homework be graded?
In this system, homework is not part of the academic grade. However, it can be scored using the behavior/work habit targets.
How many data points will teachers use to determine scores?
Teachers will collect data that becomes part of a body of evidence for evaluating student progress and growth. The amount of data collected/needed will depend on the student and standard.
Will all teachers grade the same? Subjective or objective, based on how they feel the child is doing vs. how another teacher feels the child is doing?
All assessment should be aligned to a standard and a proficiency scale. This will provide a common language when determining student mastery of standards. Professional judgement will still be needed when determining where a student is in their progression of learning.
How will the new system be evaluated to assess if it is achieving the desired outcomes?
Assessment of this system will include analyzing state achievement results and feedback from stakeholders.
Will there be any follow up sessions to share how things are going or possibly how the new grading system may be adjusted, if needed?
We will be sharing information such as this with the school board throughout the implementation.
How do you find/know the average level for each subject?
In this system, the focus is on the progression of learning according to proficiency scales and mastering standards. It is not necessary to focus on averaging scores.
How can I help my child perform at home to get him more prepared to perform at a 4.0 level?
Content will be taught at the foundational level (2.0) and mastery level (3.0). Anything a student does that is above and beyond the standard might be considered at the 4.0 level. Focusing first on mastery of the standards is key.
Is there research to support the use of standards-referenced grading?
Yes. Please visit www.usd259.org/grading to view documents.
Are the learning standards available online? If so, where? For all grades?
Yes. Please visit www.usd259.org/grading to view documents listing the standards for each elementary grade level.
Will Art & Music be part of this?
Yes. All elementary music, physical education, and art courses will have targets, scales & students will be able to set goals in each class based on the proficiency scales.
Will students have GPA’s in MS & HS?
Yes. Student scores on standards will be shown on progress reports. All scores on standards in a content area will then be converted to a letter grade. Letter grades in all subject areas can then be used to determine a Grade Point Average (GPA).
How will I know how my child is doing without letter grades? What does a 2 mean? Is a 2 a C?
It will be important to look at the performance indicators on the progress report. We will not convert to letter grades in elementary.
How is this going to be different from A-F scale?
Traditionally, students received an overall letter grade indicating their performance in class. This included both academic and behavior/work habit performance. Now, students will receive feedback regarding their performance toward mastering standards. The academic performance will be graded separately than the behavior/work habit performance.
How will SRG be distinguished from letter grades as there are 5 numbers on SRG scales and 5 traditional letter grades? Five numbers on an SRG scale and 5 traditional letter grades, so how do I not equate a “4” to an “A” or a “1” to a “D”?
The district will adopt a Secondary Conversion to Letter Grades chart that will help answer this question. This work is still in progress.
What is “mastery”?
Mastery is the term used when students have met the grade level standard/target.
How are high school transcripts going to look for universities?
Transcripts will have all necessary information needed for students applying to colleges/universities.
What is the decaying average formula?
Decaying Average (Per Target)
This formula is calculated based on an average with more weight given to the most recent scores; the higher the decay rate, the more heavily recent assessments are weighted.
The most recent assessment defaults at 65%.
For example, if there are two assessments, the most recent assessment gets 65% weight, and the first gets 35%. For each additional assessment, the sum of the previous score calculations decays by an additional 35%. If you have three assessments, the weighting would be 12% for the first assessment, 23% for the second assessment, and 65% for the third assessment.
The math behind the 65% decaying average works like this:
Let’s say you have four assessments that receive the following scores: 1, 2, 3, 4 (this last one being the most recent):
(1 × .35) + (2 × .65) = X (X × .35) + (3 × .65) = Y
(Y × .35) + (4 × .65) = Z (this being the current standard score; 3.48
A student receives a score of a 2, 3, 4 (most recent) on a single standard, using decaying average the student receives a 3.5. The formula calculates to a 3.5275 and rounds down.
If a student receives a score of 2, 4, 4, the Decaying Average formula calculates to a 3.755, so it rounds up.
How will I know prior to the end of the year report if my child is falling behind?
Teachers will continue to monitor students that may be struggling or need enrichment and communicate specific needs with parents. Progress reports at the elementary level will go home each quarter.
How often will reports be sent home?
Progress reports at the elementary level will go home each quarter, four times per year. We encourage you to have conversations with teachers throughout the year.
Will progress toward targets be available in ParentVue?
A: Parents who log in to ParentVue will find “Otus” listed. Parents can click Otus and log in to Otus with their Otus logon information (different than ParentVUE log on).
How is one classroom teacher supposed to equitably keep track of each student?
Keeping track of student progress is not new. It has always been an expectation we have. With scales, it will be a streamlined process.
Is .5 a part of the grading?
Yes. We want to celebrate progress. Having a .5 between 1, 2 helps us do that.
Why are there so many more standards in areas like PE & Art vs Science & Social Studies? Does this distribution change over time in different grades?
For this year, there will be fewer science and social studies standards required to be taught and assessed each quarter, even though there are units being taught.
When my child comes home talking about Dreambox or other computer programs they use…how can we be educated about or exposed to their curriculum?
Please contact your child’s teacher for more information. You can also contact one of the district curriculum specialists for more information as well.
Will students be retained if they have not mastered a certain % of content in their current grade?
No. We are standards-referenced, not standards-based. In our system, students continue to progress to the next grade level. Research has shown that retention is not an effective practice. Our time and energy is better spent working to support students throughout the school year providing quality core instruction and enrichment/intervention courses.
How will this affect students with special needs?
Students will continue to receive the support they have had previously. Students will continue to work on their identified goals. All students will use proficiency scales.
Is this less stressful for students?
Yes. In this system, students know what they need to learn and have ownership of their learning when they set goals and track their own progress.
How are you advising the students about the change?
Students are learning from their teachers. At the secondary level, some students have been engaged in the change process through focus groups and feedback sessions.
Have teachers been trained on this change? How have they been trained?
Yes. We started this process in 2016 and have been adding layers of information and training to different groups. Training will continue throughout the year.
My child’s teacher stated she is withholding grades on paper until she learns how to grade them?
Professional learning to support this shift will continue to be provided. Please keep in touch with the teacher.
Can we pause implementation for another year? Teachers, curriculum, computer systems aren’t ready.
We are ready for this change in the elementary grades. Preparation is taking place during the course of this year to be ready for middle school.
Can we have administrative staff do the leg work of adjusting curriculum so teachers aren’t individually recreating the wheel?
Curriculum specialists and teams of teachers have aligned identified targets/standards to teach and assess with the current curriculum.