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ERIC Number: ED539451
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 262
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-2671-7695-0
Easy as 1, 2, 3: Exploring the Implementation of Standards-Based Grading in Wake County Elementary Schools
Paeplow, Colleen Graham
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, North Carolina State University
Wake County Public School System's (WCPSS) 102 elementary schools have implemented standards-based grading. This grading practice is aligned with North Carolina's Student Accountability Standards and the WCPSS Promotion/Intervention policy. Standards-based report cards were designed to reflect student mastery of state standards and provide an objective measure of student grade level performance. With its focus on student mastery of content material, standards-based grading is intended to reduce teacher subjectivity which may bias a student's grade, and therefore provide a more equitable grading system resulting in a more meaningful grade. This grade is communicated to parents via the student's report card. The goal of this study was to examine the implementation of this grading practice. Utilizing a mixed methods study design, teachers' understanding and use of standards-based grading and the equity of the resulting grades were examined. Quantitative methods were utilized in two ways: (1) to select a sample of teachers for participation in focus groups, and (2) to examine the distribution of students' grades by subgroup in order to analyze standards-based grading as a equitable grading practice. An intensity sample of six schools with the strongest and weakest correlations between classroom grades and End-of-Grade scores (a previously validated measure of student knowledge of state standards) were the primary data source for this study. Within the sample of schools, four to twelve teachers who participated in a focus group at their school informed the qualitative exploration of the level of understanding and resulting implementation of standards-based grading within WCPSS. Teachers' understanding and use of this student progress reporting practice was examined qualitatively to determine the degree to which standards-based grading has been implemented. The fundamental characteristics of standards-based grading--mastery and the separation of homework from content grades--were described in WCPSS' documentation and clearly articulated by teachers. WCPSS' standards-based grading system is consistent with the research recommended practices of mastery and separation of homework from content grades; however, WCPSS' system of combining objective grades into one final grade was inconsistent with research recommended practices. The analysis of WCPSS' standards-based grading revealed a strong relationship between students' classroom grades and EOG scores indicating this grading system accomplishes its intended purpose of assessing students' knowledge of North Carolina's curriculum. Although grades varied considerably by ethnicity, additional analysis revealed similar correlations between fourth-quarter grades and EOG scores across ethnic groups and academic risk factor (ranging less than 0.1 by subgroup for reading and mathematics). Furthermore, the ability to use second-quarter grades to predict students' success on EOG exams would provide educators with a valuable mid-year indicator used to identify students who with additional support could be on grade level by the end of the year. Indeed, the results of this study indicate standards-based grading may have value beyond traditional grading practices. The benefits of this grading practice include providing a grading system with equity potential, providing a predictive tool to identify struggling students, and requiring teachers to offer and assess students' understanding. This study's findings enlighten grading research by providing evidence of the application of standards-based grading within a large school district and an indication of the equity potential inherit within this grading system. In light of the scarcity of grading research on the implementation of standards-based grading and the absence of prior research examining the equity potential inherit within this grading system, this study's findings inform both research and practice. Indeed, given this research was conducted within a large diverse school system, this study's findings has the potential to inform state and national grading practices. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Education; Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: North Carolina