Frequently Asked Questions

Q: My child can do some of the things listed on the progression; why isn't he getting credit? 

A: Your child is receiving credit for the things he can do, and this is documented by the teacher. The teacher works, over time, to collect evidence to support the marks on the report card. He will not receive credit on the report card until he masters ALL items under each level on the progression. Once he is able to show that he has mastered every standard under each progression target, he will move to that level (or target).

Is Standards-Based Grading used just within Clear Creek ISD? 

A: No. School districts across the state and country have been using Standards-Based Grading for more than 10 years. Departments of Education in Illinois, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Vermont, and North-East School Division – Saskatchewan (CA) have all adopted their own versions of SBG. In recent years, some form of standards-based grading has been adopted statewide in Oregon, Kansas, and Hawaii. Many regions in California, Arizona and Connecticut use the SBG model. Texas districts using SBG include Highland Park, Denton, Coppell and Lewisville.

Q: Is there any research that supports Standards Based Grading?

A: Yes.

There is much research to support that standards-based grading improves student learning. Standards-based grading allows for both teachers and students to develop a deep understanding of the learning standards. Teachers who develop useful assessments, provide corrective instruction, and give students second chances to demonstrate success can improve their instruction and help students learn. Thomas Guskey is one of the premier researchers in this area.


Thomas Guskey, Ph.D., is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Kentucky, and he is known throughout the world for his work on student assessment, grading and reporting, professional learning, and educational change. He is a former middle school teacher, served as an administrator in Chicago Public Schools, and was the director of the Center for the Improvement of Teaching and Learning, a national educational research center. He is the author/editor of 21 books and more than 250 book chapters and articles. He has a website dedicated to standards-based grading. For more information on standards-based grading, please access this website:

Q: Will all TEKS – Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills – become targets in Standards-Based Grading? 

A: No. All TEKS are addressed throughout the year in the curriculum, however, Priority Standards have been identified for each content area. A select number of these Priority Standards identified as highest priorities for each grade level are indicated on the report card. While all TEKS are introduced and developed within our curriculum, only those identified as highest grade level Priority Standards will be reported on the report card. 

Q: What do the grayed out/shaded areas on report cards mean? 

A: Shaded areas indicate the topic has either not yet been introduced or not yet ready for formal assessment. 

Q: If there is an area in which our child did not hit the expected Target for the nine weeks, should I be concerned?

A: There are multiple standards within each priority topic and students are required to master each standard to meet the target. Ideally, we would like all students to master all standards, but we know many students do not. Students who are mastering most, but not all, standards are still on the right track. Teachers continue to work individually or in small groups with students who need additional help meeting the target.

Parents are encouraged to look in the online gradebook in Skyward for specific assessments for the standards. Understanding your Child's Progress: A Guide for Kindergarten Parents, found on the district website, is a resource a parent could use to learn about the specific skills expected in each priority topic. This will let you know all the small standards the students must master to meet the target in the larger priority topic. You are always encouraged to meet with your child's teacher if you have specific concerns.

Q: Will Standards-Based Grading be implemented in the higher grade levels? 

A: Yes. Follows is the implementation schedule:

Prekindergarten -- 2016-2017
Kindergarten -- 2016-2017
First Grade -- 2016-2017
Second Grade -- 2017-2018
Third Grade -- 2017-2018
Fourth Grade -- 2018-2019
Fifth Grade -- 2019-2020

No decisions have been made, at this time, regarding implementation for secondary grades.     

Q: How are elementary students being prepared for the transition to traditional grading as they enter intermediate school?

A: Elementary students who have had SBG will be very aware of what they are learning and why. This will only support students as they move to a more traditional grading system. Over time, the goal for SBG is for students to understand what they are supposed to know and be able to set goals for themselves by using the learning progressions as support documents for this. To be able to do this, they must know what they know, what they don’t know, and a possible path to get there. Conversations with teachers help them learn this. With the supportive nature of learning progressions and SBG, the students will become accustomed to planning, setting, and achieving goals. The skills they develop through SBG will continue to support their learning in an intermediate and high school setting.

Q: How are Honor Roll and other academic awards determined with Standards-Based Grading?

A: Although we strive for all our students to be intrinsically motivated to excel academically, academic awards are important rewards for many students. Honor Roll and other academic awards are campus-based decisions. Many campuses only hold academic awards for fourth and fifth grades, some, just in fifth grade. Individual campuses have flexibility to determine which specific awards will be given. Additionally, many campuses also hold Character Rallies to honor students who have helped others, shown respect or exhibit other values. The President’s Award has specific criteria established for schools that do not use letter grades to assess student performance. To learn more about the selection criteria, visit the US Department of Education website.

Q: Are teachers receiving targeted training for Standards-Based Grading?

A: Yes, professional learning happens throughout the year for all elementary teachers.

Q: How are GT students impacted by Standards-Based Grading?

A: Standards-Based Grading has no bearing on the current GT program. Students qualify for the GT program the same way they have in the past. Students who progress ahead of targets are still offered various extension activities to enhance their knowledge and skills.

Q: How does Standards-Based Grading impact special education students?

A: Although students with special needs are expected to perform the skills listed on the progressions, they may use identified allowable accommodations to help them be successful on the skills. The only time that students are not expected to perform the skills listed on the progression is if their ARD paperwork indicates that they have modified grading. If this is the case, contact your child’s teacher for clarifications about grading.

Q: What do the symbols in the gradebook mean?

A: As SBG is implemented in each grade level, the Skyward gradebook will switch to SBG grades. The symbols for events in the gradebook are as follows: - needs support; @ approaching standards; + meets standards.

The + means a student demonstrates evidence he/she can do the skill and concept at the prescribed standard. The @ means that the student shows evidence he/she is making good progress on the skills and concepts but might not yet solidly demonstrate the skill to the prescribed standard. The – means that a student is struggling with the skills and concepts. He/she, at this time, does not demonstrate the ability to perform the skill and concept.

Be careful not to confuse the @ for meaning "on level" or the + for meaning "above level." As assignments are completed, students may earn a +, @, or – at any time during the nine-week period.

Please note, the gradebook entries represent standards within the larger progression priority topic. The report card lists scores for the larger priority topic. For this reason, it is possible for a student to receive a + in the gradebook and a 1 on the report card. For more information, please refer to the parent guide which outlines the level of achievement scale.

Q: I am hardly seeing any work sent home. How do I know how my child is doing?

A: Students utilize notebooks daily in class for all core subjects. The student and teacher also have frequent conversations, and the teacher may document this as evidence that a student understands a concept or skill. The teacher may also ask a student to demonstrate understanding by using manipulatives or other classroom resources. CCISD also offers many digital resources for student learning that can be taken home. Parents are encouraged to schedule a teacher conference to view their child’s work and assessment results or to get detailed information about their learning progress. At the conference, teachers can offer individualized feedback regarding tutoring or other supplementary resources that a student may need.

Q: Does a 3 on the SBG report card correlate to a B in traditional grading?

A: There is no correlation between traditional letter or percentage numerical grading and standards-based grading. The goal of standards-based grading is for students to reach outlined targets by the end of the school year.

Q: If a 3 ‘Meets Standard,’ what exactly does a 4 mean?  

A: In Level 4 a learner demonstrates understanding and performance beyond expected proficiency and has exceeded the standards.  Level 4s are challenging and achieved infrequently. 


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