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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

​General Questions
​Response
What is standards-based learning?​Standards-based learning is a series of instructional, assessment and reporting practices built around standards. Well defined standards identify specific knowledge and skills a student should master in each subject area at each grade level. They should describe what a student should know and be able to do as a result of instruction and experiences in school. Proficiency levels describe how well a student is advancing towards meeting the standard. If a student is proficient for a standard they have met all the criteria for that standard.  (see the "Why standards-based learning?" page on this website.)
Why is the BSD implementing a standards-based learning system (SBLS), including changing report cards?​In an effort to support the district's goal of ensuring that all students graduate college and career ready, a standards-based learning system is being implemented across the district. A standards-based learning system teaches and assesses student learning based on common learning targets. The learning targets are part of a K-12 learning progression of learning leading to college and career readiness. The goal of a standards-based system is to provide clear, effective feedback about student learning. Our goal is for marks used on our reports to support and promote learning, so we must be sure they provide information about student achievement toward the learning targets that have been assessed.
How does a standards-based learning system impact special student populations (Special Education Students, English Language Learners, Talented and Gifted Students)?

English Language Learners

We have seen evidence that more ELLs are engaged and motivated in classrooms where standards-based learning is a focus. Because teachers are targeting instruction, they are able to diagnose exactly what students have learned and what they still need to learn while using a variety of strategies to ensure learning of concepts. With the constant feedback, practice, and opportunities to demonstrate their understanding in a variety of ways, students are engaged in their own learning. This helps them persevere in a system that can be challenging to navigate, resulting in greater student success.

Talented and Gifted

Within a standards-based classroom, gifted and talented students who show early mastery of fundamental skills and concepts can move forward with their learning, engaging with the curriculum at a higher level and focusing on deeper, more challenging coursework.

Special Education Students

A standards based learning system ensures that all students, regardless of ability or disability, have the opportunity to work in some way towards learning targets. For most students receiving Special Education support, only minor accommodations are needed within the general classroom setting in order for the students to achieve success and make progress toward targets. A standards based learning system allows all students, including those with individual education plans, to be assessed on what they know and can produce.

How do I see the learning targets and rubrics being used by my student's teacher? ​Use the "Learning Target" or "Scoring Guides / Rubrics" links within this website.  You can select the subject area and then the grade level along the left-hand side of the Learning Target / Rubric page.  You can then expand each learning target to see the rubric and Supporting Learning Targets (details within each Learning Target)
If a teacher offers multiple opportunities, won't kids stop trying the first time? ​Multiple opportunities allow students to show their growth and/or consistency on each learning target.  They also provide the teacher with sufficient evidence to determine the student's current level of proficiency.  That said, teachers may choose to determine the number of opportunities they will provide and communicate this early on in the course.  Teachers can also establish the number of pieces of evidence (opportunities completed) that will be required to have sufficient evidence to determine the student's current level of proficiency. In addition, a teacher determines the number of opportunities needed to discern an individual student's level of proficiency.
Does a teacher have to give retakes? ​Retaking an assessment is one of many ways to provide multiple opportunities.  Other solutions include building an instructional plan that has multiple tasks addressing each learning target, having students produce predetermined additional evidence, or observation of/conversation with the student.
Isn't the work of creating district learning targets and rubrics already finished? ​The work of developing BSD learning targets and rubrics ranges from some in their third year of revision to some that have yet to be created.  Regardless, we will continue to refine targets and rubrics based on teacher feedback.
Secondary Questions:
Response:
Isn't it harder to earn an A in a standards-based system? ​Many of our students have historically demonstrated a high level of achievement and this will continue regardless of how it is reported.  In a standards-based system, rubrics describe Highly Proficient achievement in terms of consistency, precision, application, and independence.  The same descriptors we have always used to describe the level of rigor historically required to earn an "A".   A standards-based system does require a level of proficiency across all of the major concepts and skills taught.  The intent of a standards-based classroom is to encourage student success with all instruction, assessment, and reporting tied to clearly defined learning targets.  If we make a deliberate effort to base grades on proficiency levels within the stated learning targets and the result is a shift in the distribution of grades, we should have a larger discussion around what the letter grade has been communicating and what we want it to communicate.
Doesn't the electronic grade book assign the students' grades? ​The electronic grade book uses established criteria to consider all evidence around each learning target to make a letter grade recommendation to the teacher. Teachers will ensure the letter grade accurately represents each student's demonstrated learning and change it if necessary.