Tag Archives: standards

112: Standards-Based Grading

Are your assessments and grades in your classes a reflection of what students are able to do with the target language? Are the communication modes in there?  Are there parts of your grade that are based on compliance to rules and routines? In this episode I am going to look into what grading based on standards in a proficiency based classroom looks like. And once again, luckily there is a very useful chapter on this topic in the newly published book “Honing Our Craft.”  It gives us all the info we need to engage with “Standards-Based Grading for Proficiency-Based Language Instruction.” That’s actually the title of chapter 7. 

Honing Our Craft

  • Edited by Florecia Henshaw (Director of Advanced Spanish at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) & Kim Potowski (Professor of Spanish Linguistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago)
  • 12 chapters written by educators for educators, with a focus on bridging the gap between research and practical application.
  • Practical applications and suggestions for language educators that they can adapt to their particular contexts. 
  • Use this link and the discount code JOSHUA25HOC to save 25% on the book.

Standards-Based Grading for Proficiency-Based Language Instruction

Put Standards-Based Grading in Context

  • Traditional grading system:
    • Variability in what exactly counts towards the percentage average of a traditional grade. Some teachers include non-academic factors such as work habits (punctuality, participation, effort or completion) which have very little to do with measuring learning. (Dweck, 2014, Feldman, 2019, Townsley, 2019)
    • Score is no longer an accurate reflection of what the student can communicate in the target language.
  • 3 Core Principles of Standards-Based Grading
    • Focus should be on mastery of specific skills and grade describes that mastery
    • Multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate their learning and receive specific feedback, typically tied to a rubric
    • Separate factors such as behavior, punctuality, homework completion and extra credit

Key Terms and Misconceptions

  • Proficiency: language ability in the real world, unscripted, without practice
  • Performance: can do with practice in an educational setting. 
  • Mastery: highest level
  • Goal is for students to gradually improve their performance from assessment to assessment through feedback, learning and revision.
  • SBG can be used with any set of standards
  • Rubrics: core principle of SBG to provide feedback for revision and multiple attempts to demonstrate learning.
  • Multiple attempts to demonstrate learning
    • Use feedback to foster the use of multiple attempts for students to demonstrate learning. 
    • Retakes are not identical to first assessment, nor should it be more difficult
    • System in place to have retake opportunities: practice, formative, HW, meet with teacher.
  • Grading behaviors unrelated to mastery
    • Homework leads towards mastery, not a completion grade. If students don’t see connection, why do it?  Make it a requirement for retakes?
    • Removes opportunity for implicit bias.


  • Focus on…
    • Standards and create rubric accordingly
    • Differentiation
    •  Feedback and the iterative process
    • Formative and summative assessments 
  • Do…
    • Plan units around your learning goals
    • Collaborate with colleagues for common rubrics, assessment and learning goals (standards)
    • Plan for reassessments and retakes (additional versions) and decide on what the requirements will be to retake.
  • Don’t…
    • Create retakes that are more difficult
    • Limit scores on retakes and reassessments.  Allow students to receive full credit. Count on the new grade, most recent representation of skills, learning or mastery.

Remember to use this link and the discount code JOSHUA25HOC to get save 25% on the book.

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