Alumni Author:

Megan Pilarcik '04

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2022

Department 1



Calls to reform grading systems and other assessment practices have been growing for several decades. There is consensus among many educators that grading and assessment practices that have been traditionally accepted as good practice are at best ineffective and at worst have a negative impact on raising achievement. Consequently, there is no single solution or methodology for grading that has emerged as the best practice. A variety of contemporary grading approaches have gained widespread popularity in recent years, typically being referred to as standards-based grading, standards-referenced grading, proficiency-based grading, or competency-based learning. A challenge, however, is that different school districts define these terms differently and models vary widely in their implementation. Although there is no single grading model that is the panacea for all of the ills of past practices, the researchers identified the common ground about what an effective system for grading and assessment should include. Even though further study is needed, the resounding evidence indicates that contemporary grading practices such as standards-based grading are a preferred model if the goal of grading is to accurately communicate student learning and achievement.


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