Standards Referenced Learning and Grading in CPS

Image with school supplies and a computer on the left and Standards Referenced Learning and Grading in CPS words on the right
  • Columbia Public Schools has been progressing in the systemic, K-12 implementation of standards-based learning and grading since 2016-2017. We commonly call it Standards-Referenced Grading, or SRG. The work began with a review of revealing district data, moved toward setting a vision, mission, purpose, and goals toward full implementation, and then began in earnest through investigation, reading, studying, discussing, planning, and professional learning. 

    SRG is distinctly different from more traditional methods of learning and grading. Older, more traditional methods included teaching through a single textbook, grading everything from homework to quizzes and tests to coming prepared to class to participate. It involved giving points to all these disparate items and then creating a percent from those points. Students were graded compared to other students. These older types of methods had no research base; they had just been in place for decades., despite distinctly unfair aspects for students.

    SRG practices involve assessing students against state or national standards of learning. Student learning is measured using 4-level scales, where Level 3 is the level of meeting the grade-level standard(s) through aligned learning targets. Only academic achievement is ultimately assessed, as behaviors blended in can distort this. Since the 2000s, there has been a growing research base supporting standards-based learning and grading. Teaching in SRG classrooms draws students into partnerships with teachers, encourages them to keep track of their own learning and progress via feedback and use of proficiency scales, and helps them think about their learning and what they need to do next to improve. 

    Standards Referenced Learning Resources

    Elementary Resources

    Secondary Resources

    • Middle School Success Ready scales 
    • Listen to our middle school educators discuss how SRG works to transform their classrooms
      • Teacher Testimonial: Amy Duncan, Smithton Middle School
      • Video Link : Mathematics Teachers panelists: Melissa Fike (OMS), Danielle Ryan (GMS), Erin Thompson (SMS) facilitated by Lisa Nieder, Secondary Mathematics Coordinator