Should school be about Earning Points or about Learning?

At Libby Middle School, we believe school should emphasize learning. That is why we explicitly teach and grade to the standards. Standards-Based Grades are content-specific, rather than assignment-specific. This allows for a variety of ways for students to demonstrate mastery of content. It also promotes student discussion on how to improve their mastery of the content, rather than on how to get more points.

As we transition toward more Project-Based Learning and interdisciplinary STEAM units in which products could potentially be shared among different classes, Standards-Based Grading allows teachers to assess and provide feedback to students on their learning of individual content areas within the shared project.

Standards-Based Grading also provides an opportunity for students to take more ownership of their learning since they can clearly see the standard for which they are expected to demonstrate mastery and the rubric that measures their learning.

Why is Standards-Based Grading better for learning?

What is Standards-Based Grading?

Standards-Based Grading is about Feedback. Teachers use grading to identify the strengths and weaknesses of students. Students can use this information to know where to focus their efforts to improve and revise. This information is used by teachers to plan high quality, meaningful instruction for all students. We expect that all students in our school will grow and improve.

In a standards-based system, teachers report what students know and are able to do relative to the Common Core State Standards. The system includes:

  • The improvement of student achievement of standards and learning targets in all content areas,
  • The mastery of defined learning targets instead of the accumulation of points,
  • The reporting of student achievement toward meeting learning targets at a given time by reflecting on mounting evidence based on various forms of assessments,
  • A record keeping system that provides teachers with information that allows them to adjust learning practices to meet the needs of students, and
  • A system that encourages student reflection and responsibility.

Learn more about Standards-Based Grading by clicking on these links:

At Leona Libby Middle School


  • utilize Learning Outcomes in class
  • utilize Rubrics in class
  • facilitate Student Self-Assessment & Peer-Assessment
  • provide Feedback to students
  • provide opportunities for Student Revision & Demonstration of Growth
  • utilize the Data from the Learning Mastery gradebook in Canvas or the gradebook in Summit to improve learning for all students.

For 6th grade core courses, look at our Summit page.

For all other classes, teachers have entered the course standards, in student-friendly terms, as Outcomes in Canvas.

Assignments and Assessments are linked to specific Outcomes (Standards). Each Outcome has a 4-point rubric. This practice helps students know exactly what they are expected to learn and demonstrate.

A score of (4) would indicate that a student exceeds a standard by consistently demonstrating an advanced level of understanding and/or the ability to apply their knowledge at a higher level.

A score of (3) would indicate that a student has independently achieved the standard. The student demonstrates mastery of the standard.

A score of (2) would indicate that a student is developing an understanding of a standard, but still may be in need of additional instruction and/or support.

A score of (1) would indicate minimal understanding of a standard. The student shows limited evidence of understanding the standard.

For each item entered into the gradebook, your student will be given a score out of 4 points. Since a 3 out of 4 is only 75%, the letter grade associated with percentages had to change to properly reflect mastery of the standards. As grades are entered, an overall percentage for the class is computed according to the following scale:

  • A = 88% - 100%
  • A- = 85% - 87.99%
  • B+ = 82% - 84.99%
  • B = 73% - 81.99%
  • B- = 70% - 72.99%
  • C+ = 67% - 69.99%
  • C = 58% - 66.99%
  • C- = 55% - 57.99%
  • D+ = 52% - 54.99%
  • D = 40% - 51.99%
  • F = 0% - 39.99%

To receive an A, students must have both 4’s and 3’s. To receive a B, students should have mostly 3’s with some 2’s and 4’s mixed in. And so on down the line.

When you look at your student's grades, we recommend that you look at their scores for each Outcome and corresponding rubric so that you can have a meaningful discussion on how your child can improve to the next level.