Standards-Based Report Cards: A Complex but Worthy Endeavor

  • Posted on: 19 August 2013
  • By: Tina McCoy

Across many of our school systems there is much talk about standards-based report cards, but very little understanding about the value of standards-based report cards and how they can be effectively developed and implemented in schools. Developing Standards-Based Report Cards, by Thomas Guskey and Jane Bailey, emphasizes the alignment of curriculum (standards), instruction and assessment (report cards) in a way that is constructive and meaningful to the everyday school lives of students. Developing Standards Based Report Cards CoverIn a user-friendly format, the authors describe not only a rationale for this paradigm shift in grading, but also a step-by-step process for development and implementation of standards-based report cards. Using examples and scenarios from schools across the country, Guskey and Bailey outline the purpose, processes and pitfalls associated with standards-based grading.

Developing Standards-Based Report Cards provides a road map for effective development leading to rational and sequential implementation of report cards that communicate progress toward standards more accurately to parents and students. This is much more than a technical manual, however.  Practical considerations of all types (school culture, communication with parents, technology requirements) are embedded into the text. The result is a useful guide that can prevent glitches and unnecessary pushback as a school moves forward to make report cards a meaningful tool to inform instruction.  

Caveat: Standards-based grading may be logical and based on sound principles of education, but the shift away from traditional grading is profound in terms of school and community culture. Don’t be lulled into thinking that if you do everything ‘technically’ right that the transition from one method of grading to another will be smooth or easy.  Consider supplementing this book with other resources on change, communication and school culture.