Standards-based grading combines updated instructional practices and culture from traditional dictation systems to better engage students and to foster a positive learning environment. Standards-based grading also measures students learning and offers itself to understand the effectiveness of instruction. The ability of teachers to track the students’ progress enables them to custom make the instructions to fit the individual student needs according to their performance in each of the “learning targets”. Higher completion rates for students was interpreted as a good mastery of the subject and students can earn higher grades by completing most of the work. The interpretation is that students who have grades A and B are the most competent as they can fulfil most of instruction as the teacher willed. Students are setup to attempt standards aligned activities such as projects, worksheets, quizzes, essays and presentations from which the teachers assess the output of the student and can choose the appropriate mastery level that they demonstrated. Typical skills of 1-4 reflect student’s increasing skill in the subject and an instructor can know how to well address the issue from the progress. This enables the students to continue working and learning until they are able to achieve the target and is therefore viewed as a ladder where students climb up, one rung at the time, and eventually reached the top. Some of the students’ progress immediately they receive instructions but most of them do not. The process requires patience and practice and it is constantly repeated until the student reaches their target.
In environments that harbour standards-based grading, it is noted that better feedback from the teachers accelerates student learning. Positive environments such as these can speed up a student’s learning as they feel they have a proper relationship with the instructor. “Learning targets” in standards-based grading written in student-friendly language so as they can understand the cause of the instructions well. They can further identify the areas of improvement and self-direct activities.
Standard-based grading systems neutralize this problem as the teachers will know which students are in level 1, 2 or 3 and enables the instructor to offer a level appropriate work to improve the students. This particular kind of instruction is called “differentiated instruction” or simply DI in short.
This enables them to achieve high levels of enjoyment in school while sustaining high levels of effort and achievement. This is an emotionally safe environment where students are encouraged to stretch themselves, make mistakes and learn as opposed to the traditional methods that create a test-taking fear and calls anxiety that interferes with learning because students are afraid of making mistakes.