Grading for Learning
Graphic Describing the Definition of a Standard.

Over the course of the last several years, administrators and teachers looked to improve instructional practices and educational assessment by researching best practices, policies and collaborating as to how those policies could be implemented, ultimately having a positive effect on student achievement. 

We have a responsibility to provide all students in our district with the same rigorous curriculum. Teachers use grading to identify the strengths and weaknesses of students. This information is used by teachers to plan high quality, meaningful instruction for all students. We expect that all students in our district will grow and improve.

The School District of Poynette's reporting standards and learning goals are based on the Wisconsin State Standards which continue to evolve with the adoption of the Common Core State Standards.  In the classroom, our teachers post learning goals for each lesson by writing them in student-friendly terms. This practice helps students know exactly what they are expected to learn.

This page provides a variety of resources and information regarding standards-based grading and the instructional practices that support it.

What is Grading for Learning?

In a standards-based system, teachers report what students know and are able to do relative to the Wisconsin and Common Core Academic Standards. The system includes:

  • The improvement of student achievement of standards and learning targets in all content areas,
  • The mastery of defined learning targets instead of the accumulation of points,
  • The reporting of student achievement toward meeting learning targets at a given time by reflecting on mounting evidence based on various forms of assessments,
  • A record keeping system that provides teachers with information that allows them to adjust learning practices to meet the needs of students, and
  • A system that encourages student reflection and responsibility

Reporting Rubrics

The following reporting rubrics provide information about the standards, skills and knowledge students and teachers are working within a specific discipline. The rubrics helps with consistency in instruction and the skills and knowledge addressed across courses and teachers, although all grading involves some subjectivity. In addition to this broad look, teachers and students use other ongoing assessments to provide detailed data regarding student progress towards meeting our standards. Following are links to the reporting rubrics employed in grade levels and courses throughout our district.

Click here to access our collection of district reporting rubrics.

Grading for Learning Means a Shift in Education Philosophy

This system of assessment requires all stakeholders, teachers, students and parents to think differently about grading, teaching and learning. Take a moment to watch these videos to learn more. 


A Summary of Grading for Learning

Standards-Based Grading Overview

How is Grading for Learning Different than Traditional Grading?

The student’s grade more accurately represents the progress toward mastery of standards than traditional grading does. Standards-based grading reports tell us how students are performing on a set of clearly defined learning outcomes. Subject areas are subdivided into big ideas related to standards and their respective learning targets that students need to learn or master.  The influence of positive and consistent work habits on student learning is reported separately from the academics.

Scores for a course are not calculated, as is traditionally generated by averaging or combining multiple scores across the duration of a class. Unlike traditional grade reports, standards-based grading measures students’ knowledge of grade-level content by reporting the most recent, consistent level of performance. So, a student might struggle in the beginning of a course with new content, but then learn and demonstrate proficient performance by the end of the course. Standards-based grading reports separately on academic tasks and work habits in order to give a more accurate report of student progress in both affective and academic areas.  Measures like effort, participation, timeliness, cooperation are not blended into the mark for academic performance.

Grading for Learning Uses Most Recent Assessments Rather Than Averaging

Every student starts a course with a certain amount of background knowledge, some accurate and some not, related to a topic/learning target. Through assessments during the grading period, teachers are able to determine students’ levels of achievement of the learning targets.  Since the goal is to document each student’s level of achievement based on learning targets, averaging all scores throughout the marking period dilutes the information, underestimates the students’ ending performance, and corrupts the determination of whether or not the student has achieved the targets.

How does a standards-based report card improve teaching and learning?

Knowing where the students are in their progress toward meeting standards-based learning targets is crucial for planning and carrying out classroom instruction. Teachers teach to the needs of their students. Standards-based grading is designed to give teachers more information about the student’s progress in meeting the level of proficiency required by each standard.  In addition, teachers share the standards with students and parents, helping them to better understand the learning that needs to take place and how we can help our students succeed.

Our Staff on Grading for Learning

See the Research Behind our Work

The following resources will give stakeholders insight on the years of research on best practices when grading for learning. Read the following to learn more. 

How to Grade for Learning Ken O’Connor

A Repair Kit for Grading: 15 Fixes for Broken Grades Ken O’Connor

Developing Standards-Based Report Cards Thomas Guskey & Jane Bailey

Answers to Essential Questions about Standards, Assessments, Grading & Reporting Thomas Guskey & Lee Ann Jung

How to Create & Use Rubrics for Formative Assessment Susan Brookhart

Understanding by Design Grant Wiggins & Jay McTighe

Learning Targets: Helping Students Aim for Understanding in Today’s Lessons Connie Moss & Susan Brookhart

Classroom Assessment for Student Learning: Doing it Right; Doing it Well Jan Chappius, Rick Stiggins, Steve Chappius & Judith Arter

Professional Learning Communities at Work: Best Practices for Enhancing Student Achievement Richard DuFour & Robert Eaker

Learning by Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities at Work Richard DuFour, Rebecca DuFour, & Robert Eaker


Implementing Grading for Learning

Want to learn more about the basis for getting started in your school district?

Click on the infographic below to look closely at some of the critical components of building a community around the best practices for Grading for Learning. (When the new page opens, click "present" in the right corner for a slide view format)

For additional information about Grading for Learning in our district, please contact,

Pictochart Explaining the Processes for Implementing Grading for Learning
  • School District of Poynette
  • 108 N Cleveland Street, Poynette, WI 53955
  • Phone: 608-635-4347 | Fax: 608-635-9200
  • Email