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Standards-Based or Traditional Grading – Why not Both?


There are many reasons to support both Standards-Based & Traditional grading.

For teachers trying to jump into Standards-Based Grading (SBG) and don’t know how, a hybrid option might seem like an easier transition from a traditional grading system.  Other teachers may want to fully switch to SBG but because of their school’s requirements or even pressure from parents, they still need to adhere to giving out standard letter grades.

No matter what you do, the focus should be on the grade reflecting student learning and comprehension.

Here’s a grading system that helps those of you looking to find a balance of both.

Weighting Grades on SBG Principles

Instead of throwing all of your old assignments, quizzes, & tests out the window, weight these items appropriately to reflect SBG principles.

Often assignments can be divided into two categories: assessments & work habits.


These include quizzes, tests, or any other form of assessment that you use to measure student learning.  If you want to go more in-depth, you can divide these into formative vs. summative assessments – but that’s a topic for another article.

Work Habits

This category includes anything that measures a student’s level of work or study habits such as homework, class work, attendance, participation, etc.

Now in traditional SBG, students would not receive any credit or points for items in the Work Habits category.  What some teachers have found is that students & parents are still “focused on grades” and have a hard time embracing a concept that focuses solely on mastery of the standards.

To marry these two concepts together, teachers can still give grades to Work Habit assignments but lower the weight that they have on the final grade.

Example of a Hybrid Gradebook

Based on this concept, here’s one example of how you could organize your gradebook:

  • Assessment 80%
    • Projects (20%)
    • Quizzes (20%)
    • Tests (40%)
  • Work Habits
    • Homework (10%)
    • Classwork (10%)

This is a simple breakdown of the percentage that could be given to each category in a hybrid SBG/Tradational grading system.  Teachers should feel comfortable adding & subtracting categories or modifying these percentages to fit their classroom and situation.

Have you tried a hybrind SBG/Tradtional grading system in your classroom?  Share your experience in the comments below.

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