Preparing hearts and minds for lives of leadership, service, and excellence.

Standards Based Grading

“Education becomes a conversation about skills, allowing students to engage in and take ownership of the process.”


FAQ for Parents & Students

Are there any disadvantages to SBG?

  • Any institutional change requires strategic planning and deliberate action. While this transition will take some time to fully implement, SBG is reflective of best practices and is consistent with national trends. Implementation practices are also embedded within the National Standards and Benchmarks for Catholic Schools and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Teacher Effectiveness Framework.

Will all of the standards be shown on the report card?

  • Due to the large number of standards that students are assessed on in a given year, a report card displaying all standards would become overwhelming due to size. Additionally, a report card is only one communication tool used to convey student progress. Our current report card provides specific information on standards that are most critical for each grade level - priority standards - and are the instructional focus for teachers. This new report card will provide parents with even more information about their child’s academic progress.

Why isn’t there a GPA on the new report card?

  • GPAs create a ranking system to compare students to each other. This is a questionable practice as the use of grades to rank students against each other has little value to most students. Sorting students into “successful” or “not-as-successful” categories is a practice that has little positive impact on the learning process as it rewards and validates only a small number of students. Our goal is to help ALL students achieve mastery of the standards; the use of GPAs does not help us achieve that aim. Some parents ask if the absence of GPAs on report cards will harm their child’s chances of acceptance in certain high schools. In speaking with local high schools, we have found that they use indicators beyond GPA because grades are not necessarily accurate indicators of current achievement or future academic success. Furthermore, high schools receive applicants from a wide variety of middle schools and grades are not a standardized unit of measurement.

What is the advantage of the standards-based report card for parents?

  • A standards-based report card gives you a much better picture of what your child knows and is able to do. A traditional report card provides limited information, often consisting of one overall grade per subject. While a standards-based report card provides feedback on your child's progress in several developmental areas within a subject. Additionally, standards based report cards allow students, parents, and teachers to identify specific strengths and weaknesses in a given subject area.

Why are we changing to standards-based grading?

  • The move to a standards-based learning model is based on a wealth of educational research. Too often students become skilled at the “game” of school, which is to say that the priority becomes the acquisition of points rather than the development of transferable skills. Removing points and percentages allows the learning targets to take center stage; as a result, the conversations about student progress become centered on skill development instead of letter grades.

How does SBG motivate my student in their learning?

  • One of the greatest advantages of SBG is its impact on student motivation. Research shows that SBG can have a significant positive impact on student learning and school culture. SBG helps students clearly understand what they are expected to know and be able to do. Additionally, students are given opportunities to progress toward their mastery of standards without penalty and fear of failure. They learn the value of learning through practice and perseverance while embracing academic challenges.

Will SBG change the curriculum?

  • No. The curriculum of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is designed to be standards-based and has always been aligned with state and national standards.

How does SBG change the way my child experiences learning?

  • SBG provides parents and students with specific feedback on each learning standard. Since the focus of instruction is on mastery for students, they will have more than one opportunity to demonstrate mastery, if and when it is needed. Feedback from assessments tell students what learning goals they have mastered and what they still need to work on. Students “own” their learning which creates a culture of learning that is more engaging for students and embraces learning as the goal.

Why are we moving away from letter grades?

  • There are a number of advantages to using proficiency-based grading rather than letter-based grades. The use of letter-based grades can often confuse students and parents as they do not clearly communicate the level of learning students are achieving. The criteria behind earning a particular letter grade can vary greatly among districts, schools, and even teachers within a school, leaving students and parents confused. In standards-based grading, the performance indicators clearly communicate the level of learning students have demonstrated on the standards during the grading period.

How does SBG motivate my children in their learning?

  • The standards-based learning model returns the student’s focus to the learning process instead of collecting points. In this model, students are better equipped to track their own development and reflect on their progress.


Thank you for your continued support of St. Gabriel Parish School.