Standards-Based Learning

Standards-Based Learning

Standards are best defined as a set of expectations which represent what is most important to learning within a particular content area or discipline. Standards are both descriptive and prescriptive.

That is, standards are descriptive as they tend to reflect what is enduring about a discipline while simultaneously reflecting what may be relevant today. For instance, "Reading" represents a broad category of standards for English Language Arts. This should not be surprising, but the idea that we should teach students to read visual and multimedia text closely, in the same way we might read a book, may be new for some parents.

Standards are prescriptive in that there may be particular areas that require a focus for students and teachers. At one grade level, students may be required to learn a specific mathematical concept or skill, such as "Count within 1000; skip-count by 5s, 10s, and 100s" by the end of second grade. 

Students learn and are engaged in lessons on a daily basis that focus on the standards. Standards embody knowledge, reasoning, skills, and the ability to create products.

Standards-Based Grading

Standards-based grading is the practice of assigning value to student work associated with a standard or set of standards. If the student shows he or she knows and can do work that meets the standard or expectation, then the student has indeed met expectations. Grades may reflect more specific standards per assignment. For instance, students would have an opportunity to learn how to skip count by 5's before they received a grade or rating describing achievement related to that skill.

Students are graded or assessed on single tasks or tests periodically throughout a unit of study. Grades reflect achievement at a moment.

Standards-Based Reporting

Standards-based reporting involves reporting results of student achievement related to standards. This achievement reporting occurs four times per year or quarterly in NCSD. Students do not receive specific information related to detailed standards at these points, but rather, receive feedback about achievement in an overall area or measurement topic within a content area. That is, students would receive achievement rating in the areas of Reading, Writing, Speaking & Listening, and Language within an English Language Arts portion of a report card. Students would not likely receive a report card rating on how well they could write a summary about a particular book. Or in relation to skip counting, a collection of tasks may inform a teachers judgment about a student's level of mastery in the area of "Numbers and Operations in Base Ten."

Students receive report cards periodically throughout a course of study and at the end of the year. Report card marks reflect achievement over time, but are reported at specific times. (Four times per year in Novi.)

We are beginning to use common metrics to better assess growth related to standards rom marking period to marking period and from year to year. Standards increase in depth and complexity each year. Therefore, a student who meets expectations one grade level to the next is showing growth.

Achievement Level Descriptors 

LEVEL 4 Exceptional Achievement

Shows thorough understanding of knowledge, reasoning, skills and ability to create products

  • synonyms: distinguished, exemplary, excellent, effective, sophisticated, insightful, complex, exceptional, deeper


 Shows adequate understanding of knowledge, reasoning, skills and ability to create products

  • synonyms: competent, capable, comprehensive, consistent, accurate, complete, reasoned, secure, sufficient, deep

LEVEL 2 Meets Some Expectations

 Shows partial understanding of knowledge, reasoning, skills and ability to create products

  • synonyms: some, occasional, uneven, inconsistent, limited, evident, developing, applied

LEVEL 1 Does Not Meet Expectations

 Shows minimal understanding of knowledge, reasoning, skills or ability to create products

  • synonyms: little, few, incorrect, inaccurate, naive, simple, incomplete, unreasonable, beginning, surface