Grading - Challenge Map



The Challenge

There is a great deal of subjectivity inherent in assigning grades, and grades may not always reflect student mastery of skills and content. Many districts are seeking a more objective system of grading that represents new and expanded ways of assessing student learning. They are also thinking about how grades can provide more purposeful feedback to help students improve. Schools are grappling with a shift from letter grades toward grading in a competency-based progression. Since both teachers and parents are accustomed to traditional grading practices, districts also need support around training and building buy-in for any new grading systems.

Challenge Stats


Educators responded this challenge is widespread


High school staff responded this challenge is urgent


Respondents reported their schools or districts have made progress on this challenge

Ideas from the Field

  • One district chose to focus on grading as a “problem of practice” for the entire year. Through monthly meetings with administrators, principals, and teacher leaders, the district has slowly been developing recommendations.
  • One school has eliminated all letter grades, and is working to de-emphasize report grades while emphasizing ongoing communication with parents.

In the Words of District Staff

I just don't see any way to grade students in a learning space that we are not in control of. It seems unfair to even give a pass or fail. Some students are not able to get support to do online learning from their parents. It is very inequitable.
Elementary school teacher
Spring 2020

“A lot of parents want to see grades. And so the first time that we rolled out a grade-free progress report ... parents didn't really know what to do with that.”

“It is challenging for real teachers to expose their own subjectivity in grading and try to get to the heart of, ‘are you objective with the grade? And are you giving feedback to kids that is purposeful?'”


Do No Harm: Flexible and Smart Grading Practices - From Edutopia, this article suggests having students take responsibility for their grades by strategically offering opportunities to redo assignments, retake tests, and reflect on their performance.

The Rise of Rubrics for Performance Based Assessment in K-12 Education - This blog post shares many advantages of rubrics, and why they can offer more useful information than letter grades on student learning.

Implementation of a Standards-Based Grading Model: A Study of Parent and Teacher Perceptions of Success - This study explores the perceptions of parents and teachers regarding the success of a standards-based grading initiative in meeting its goals.

Why Do Students Get Good Grades, or Bad Ones? - This working paper from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research examines the influences of the teacher, class, school, and student on course grades.

Sign Up For Updates! Email icon

Sign up for updates!