Standard-based learning. Many schools are adopting it, but what exactly is it? Standard-based learning moves away from traditional letter grades and/or percentages, and focuses the curriculum on specific, measurable learning goals. Standard-based learning is a methodology that defines exactly what the students need to learn. By providing students with both formal and informal activities, teachers are able to assess proficiency of these targeted learning goals, provide specific feedback, and help them move towards a greater level of mastery.

Intertwined with standard-based learning is standard-based grading. In our district, levels of proficiency are communicated as such:

4 – exceeds grade level expectations

3 – meets grade level expectations

2 – sometimes meets grade level expectations

1 – does not meet grade level expectations

In order to help with the management of standard-based grading, this is what I do:

  • I insert each report card descriptor as an Assessment Tag. As we move throughout the academic year, I’m able to, at a glance, see which students need help moving towards greater mastery. I can work with them individually and/or in small groups in order to help them do so (please note that images and names are blurred for anonymity).


  • When I advance to a student’s individual page (see two pics below), I’m able to tap the Traffic Light History icon. From here I can easily scan his or her levels of proficiency for all standard-based learning objectives. I can use this data to set goals, communicate needs, or increase efficiency while completing report cards.


Speaking of these marks, I personally designate a red light as a 1 (does not meet expectations), a yellow light as a 2 (sometimes meets expectations), and a green light either as a 3 (meets expectations) or 4 (exceeds expectations) based on my discretion.


The Traffic Light System is also great for special education teachers who need to monitor their students’ IEP goals, which can also be inserted as Assessment Tags.

We already have some great ideas for future enhancements to the Traffic Light System; however, we’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions.