Academics » Report Cards - FAQ

Report Cards - FAQ

Standards-Based Grading Guide

What is standards-based grading?

Standards-based grading communicates how students perform on a set of clearly-defined learning targets called standards. The purpose of standards-based grading is to identify what a student knows, or is able to do, in relation to those standards - as opposed to simply averaging grades/scores over the course of the grading period, which can mask what a student has learned or not learned.

Why standards-based grading?

Standards-based grading reports what students should know and be able to do within each content area at each grade level. The real-time monitoring of student performance reflects a more accurate picture of student achievement. Additional reasons for standards-based grading include:

  • Other methods of grading do not accurately indicate what a student knows and is able to do.
  • Students will be able to explain what they learned or did not learn, rather than recite a percentage or letter grade.
  • It can benefit all learners - students who struggle and students whose learning is accelerated. Students’ progress toward proficiency of standards can assist teachers in determining intervention or enrichment opportunities.
  • Parents/guardians are provided information on specific standards while receiving meaningful feedback.

How does standards-based differ from traditional grading?

A standards-based grading system measures a student’s mastery of grade-level standards by prioritizing the most recent, consistent level of performance. A student who may have struggled at the beginning of a unit when first learning new material may still be able to demonstrate mastery of key content/concepts by the end of the school year.

In traditional grading systems, a student’s performance for an entire quarter is averaged together. Early quiz scores that were low would be averaged together with more proficient performance later in the unit or quarter, resulting in a lower overall grade than current performance indicates. Standards-based report cards also separate academic performance from work habits in order to provide parents/guardians a more accurate view of a student’s progress in both areas.

How are my child’s “grades” determined?

What students know and can do will be assessed through a variety of measures (conversations, observation, checklists, student writing, formal assessments, etc.) to determine proficiency with a standard. Proficiency scales explain what a student needs to know and be able to do in order to earn a specific proficiency rating (1-4 scale).

What are the levels of proficiency and what do they represent?

4 - Student demonstrates advanced mastery and application of grade-level content

3 - Student demonstrates proficiency with all aspects of the grade-level standard

2 - Student possesses foundational concepts toward achieving the grade-level standard

1 - With help, student demonstrates partial success with score 2 and 3 skills

Work habits will be assessed using the following scale:

3 - Frequently exhibits

2 - Occasionally exhibits

1 - Rarely exhibits

Where can I find more information regarding proficiency scales for my child’s grade level?

We encourage all parents/guardians to be informed regarding the academic content and concepts students will learn each year in school. Information on grade-level proficiency scales can be found on the Lexington Two website at

For reading, proficiency is also based on reading grade-level texts. The chart below shows your student’s reading level. For students not reading on grade level, your student’s reading level will be Included in the comments on the report card so you can work collectively as a team (student, parent, and teacher) to set attainable reading goals.



Beginning of Year

End of 1st Quarter

End of 2nd Quarter

End of 3rd Quarter

End of Year







1st Grade






2nd Grade






3rd Grade






4th Grade






5th Grade






What is considered to be an “A” in a standards-based grading system?

You cannot compare a traditional grading system to standards-based grading. Standards-based grading indicates whether or not a student is meeting end-of-year grade-level expectations for each standard. A score of 3 is defined as meeting end-of-year grade-level expectations. Our goal is that all students achieve at least a 3 on all standards by the end of the year.

What does standards-based grading mean for families?

Families have more detailed information to support and encourage students related to academics and work habits. Standards-based grading provides parents/guardians with feedback that is specific to their student’s progress toward mastery on a prescribed set of learning goals, objectives, and skills, rather than one overall letter grade that may hide specific points of strength or areas for improvement.

How will I know if my child needs help?

Receiving a 1 or 2 on a report card, particularly in the second half of the school year, can be a sign a student is in need of additional support in that specific area. This is one benefit of standards-based report cards; specific areas in need of support are clearly identified. Tier II academic support is in place at each school to support learners who are behind in math and reading. If a student receives 1s or 2s, it means his/her work is not yet meeting the end-of-year grade-level expectations. A number of academic interventions will be offered to any students struggling to meet the established proficiency expectations. These supports are not a punishment; they are a way we support the learning process. 

How can my child earn a 4?

A score of 4 indicates performance that is consistently above what is expected for their grade level. Level 4 work would indicate a much deeper understanding of a standard, the ability to apply that knowledge, make connections, and extend learning beyond the targeted goal.

If a student is in accelerated (Launch) classes, does that mean they will be getting 4s automatically?

No. Students who are in accelerated classes must demonstrate and apply learning above grade-level proficiency on a consistent and independent basis for the standard in order to receive a 4.  However, students in accelerated classes will be expected to achieve 4s by the end of the year.

What about students who have Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)?

All students must be graded according to grade-level standards, in line with their peers, on the grade-level report card. Proficiency levels given on the standards-based report card must be based on expectations for that grade level. This means any student performing below grade level cannot receive a 3 or 4 in any content area, including reading. For students with special education services, IEP progress reports inform parents/guardians about their student’s progress toward IEP goals and are sent in conjunction with each report card. Students whose IEP includes modified standards will receive an alternate report card based on their modified standards.

What about multilingual learners?

When students come into Lexington Two with limited English proficiency, a team creates an Individualized Language Acquisition Plan (ILAP) and determines whether accommodations or modifications are appropriate based on the student’s proficiency level and the related can-do descriptors. If modifications to content are appropriate, teachers need to provide additional information for modified standards, communicating what was actually measured. The report card will include a special notation that the student was working toward modified standards.

What will the report card look like?

The report card will seek to provide meaningful feedback so both students and parents/guardians can track progress toward mastery of essential standards, as well as reflect upon strengths and areas for growth. Proficiency scores will only be reported for standards that have had sufficient time for teaching and assessing. A gray square on the report card for a given standard means it has not been formally assessed and reported yet. Samples of each grade-level report card can be found at

Will my child still receive teacher comments on his/her report card?

Yes. Individual feedback is an essential component of standards-based grading. Effective feedback is a more useful source of information than simply assigning a percentage or letter grade to student work. A goal of using standards-based grading is to improve communication regarding student achievement.

How will I access my child’s report card?

Report cards are emailed to the parent/guardian email address(es) on file with the district. A PDF copy of the report card will go home each quarter. Students will not receive interim report cards.

How will the honor roll be determined?

The traditional concept of an honor roll does not easily match up with standards-based grading. It is our intention that schools recognize and acknowledge the academic accomplishments of students, as well as those who consistently display good citizenship/work habits.

Will my child have standards-based grading in middle and high school?

At this time, standards-based grading will only be used in elementary school. Beginning in middle school, students will receive traditional letter grades. Many other practices, however, including monitoring student mastery of essential standards, academic intervention and extension, and reassessment opportunities, extend through 12th grade.