Adjusting to a New Grading System

All over the school, teachers and students of all backgrounds have differing opinions about standards-based grading.


Buckle up! All students pay close attention to their educational performance. However, standards-based grading greatly affects the perception of this performance.

Jose Guzman

The world of standards-based grading is one of complexity, with both staff and students wondering how this nation-wide system affects our performance.

Teachers from all over the school have different opinions about how the standards-based grading system affects their class structure and their pupils’ performance. While math and English teachers have gotten used to this grading system, social studies teachers, who started with the standards-based grade book only recently, are still trying to adjust to the change. Round Lake High School students also have their own beliefs regarding the way they are graded. While they do see the the positives in the system, the negatives are being recognized and constantly affect their performance.

Like all school-wide changes, standards-based grading has many positives that benefit both teachers and students. The system facilitates the ability to pinpoint individual and classwide weaknesses easier than ever before. “It does let us see where a group of students overall is deficient in,” said social studies teacher Mr. Douglas Moss. “So we can work that particular area a little bit better.”  Because of the grading system’s specific categories, teachers now have the ability to compile grades in a way that improves organization and makes them easier for students to understand. “It gives students a little bit more of an idea of what they’re doing,” said math teacher Mr. Russ LaChance. “It gives them a bit more clarification.” Students can now easily see where they are struggling with the specific standards that are tailored to each subject. “It tells you how good you are doing in a class,” said Sophomore Alex Barham. “That makes it very easy by just viewing your standards.”

However, standards-based grading isn’t some flawless solution to teachers’ and students’ problems. “It takes away the ability to focus on specific aspects of content in individual classes,” says Moss. “It also tends to bunch up students in the middle because it is so broad, it takes away students who would be in the A category and some in lower categories and blends the majority in the C range.” The system also has some inconsistencies and vagueness in some areas. “Some of the standards need to be more specific,” said LaChance. “We’re working on that to try to get them more specific and more consistent so they aren’t so different.” The large amount of standards also has an effect on students’ perception of their grades. Barham says that there are way too many standards, to the point where he faces frustration when looking for some grades.

Despite this, the system can and will be reformed and improved. To tie back to the social studies department’s relationship with the grading system, familiarity with the social studies department is improving slowly and surely. According to Moss, the transition to standards-based grading will become easier over time, as improvement takes time to achieve. Many departments are hard at work revising their standards so that they are more clear.  “We keep working as a department and a school to make them specific enough to get what we need out of them,” said LaChance. “Specific enough to where the students understand what they need and consistent enough to know where they are understood across the board, especially in other classes.” Students need to also remember that they can contact teachers if they have any confusion about their grades or which standards to look for.

It is important to remember that we as a school have the intent to work together in order to make students’ school experience the best as possible. “Everything that we’re doing is going to make things better for you guys,” said LaChance. “We always want to do everything better, and it should be reflected in grading.”