Standards-Based Grading

Midwest Academy employs Standards-Based Grading, which is based on student mastery of the course material. This reflects the Midwest Academy mission to make student learning, and in turn grading, more meaningful.

Courses are structured around standards. Each class will have multiple standards, or objectives/criteria that students will focus on learning, demonstrating and/or performing during class.

Assignment Rubric Example

In Standards-Based Grading, students receive a numerical score of 0-4 for each standard, which represents an objective, that an assignment or assessment covers. Most assignments and assessments include multiple standards. The teacher provides the measurement standards students need to achieve for each score in a rubric prior to each assignment.

After completing an assignment, the teacher assigns a numerical score for each standard based on the rubric. Multiple scores are averaged into an overall numerical score ranging from 0-4.

Here is an example of a standards-based grading rubric that a student may receive in advance of a reading assignment:

Scoring Example

In this standards-based scoring example, the teacher highlighted student achievement for each standard. Each standard score was averaged for an overall assignment score.


By scoring each standard, a student’s level of understanding of each concept is clear to the student, parents, and teacher. To improve the overall assignment or assessment score, students have the opportunity to redo assignments, projects, and assessments (except when a final is given) to demonstrate improved understanding of concepts and material covered.

What Do the Overall Scores on the 4.0 Scale Mean?

The overall score for a class is determined by calculating the average of numerical scores the student achieves on assignments and assessments within a grading period.

The following table helps describe the score in terms of academic performance.

Score Defined Academic Performance
4.0 The student demonstrates an in-depth understanding of the material by completing advanced applications of the material for the class.
3.0 The student has mastered the complex, targeted knowledge and skills for the class.
2.0 The student understands the foundational material that supports the targeted learning, but is still working to master the complex material for the class.
1.0 The student is able to demonstrate an understanding of the foundational material for the class with help from the teacher, but still struggles when working independently.
0.0 Even with assistance from the teacher, the student shows no understanding of the material.

 * The intermediate scores of 0.5, 1.5, 2.5, and 3.5 are used to show that a student has shown partial mastery of the next level of learning.

Standards-Based Grading and the Engagement Grade

The Engagement Grade is included as a weekly engagement score and sometimes also as a standard within an assignment, such as working with a partner. The purpose of the Engagement Grade is to hold students accountable for their personal engagement in class and to identify weaknesses so that strategies can be put into place to help each student develop these important life skills.

While the tracking and incorporating of this grade is very important for student growth and development, the Engagement Grade only constitutes a small portion of each student’s overall grade for each class. See the following graphic for an example.

Overall Class Score Calculated Based on Average of Numerical Scores – Example

What is the Grade Scale for Standards-Based Grading?

Middle School Grading Scale

In middle school, each numerical score correlates to a mark labeled Beginning, Developing, or Proficient. It is the goal for all students to build greater mastery or proficiency throughout the year.

Score Defined Academic Performance
4.0 – 3.0 Proficient
2.9 – 1.1 Developing
1.0 – 0.0 Beginning

High School Grading Scale

In high school, each numerical score is converted to a traditional letter grades (A-F), as these letter grades are required for college admittance. It is the goal for all students to build greater mastery or proficiency throughout the year.

Letter Grade: Score Range Letter Grade: Score Range Letter Grade: Score Range
A: 3.9 – 4.00 B-: 2.7 – 2.9 D+: 1.3 – 1.6
A-: 3.7 – 3.8 C+: 2.3 – 2.6 D: 1.0 – 1.2
B+: 3.3 – 3.6 C: 2.0 – 2.2 D-: 0.7 – 0.9
B: 3.0 – 3.2 C-: 1.7 – 1.9 F: 0.0 – 0.6

What is the Rationale Behind Standards-Based Grading?

  • Makes grades more meaningful
  • Helps teachers adjust instruction (e.g., does whole class need a concept re-taught?)
  • Motivates students to work toward progress instead of immediate perfection, as they can re-submit work for better grade
  • Eliminates issues with percentage grades (e.g., Zeros for missing assignments can damage a student’s grades irreparably, 0-60 is a large margin for failing, etc.)
  • Accurately paints a clear picture of what a student has learned