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The What



Standards-Based Learning overall:

“The primary goal of grading and reporting is to communicate to important audiences, such as students and parents, high-quality feedback to support the learning process and encourage learner success.

Essential questions:

  • How will we know that we are providing high-quality feedback to parents and students?

  • How might we ensure that the information we transmit in the grading and reporting process is useful in supporting the learning process?

  • How should we grade and report in ways that encourage learner success?”

(Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006, p.129).


sbe chart nice to know important to know need to know

Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum

What is a guaranteed and viable curriculum?
  • a viable curriculum is a well-articulated set of knowledge and skills that every child should learn in grades K-12. Viable also means it can be taught for understanding in the time available.

  • A guaranteed curriculum means it is taught in every classroom in every school.

*A guaranteed and viable curriculum is comprised of three main elements: Nice to know, important to know and do, and need to know (Adapted from McTighe and Wiggins, Understanding By Design, 2004).


When enacting the curriculum through the process of instructional planning, the difference can be seen between standards based grading and traditional practice.


Traditional Practice

  1. Select a topic from the curriculum

  2. Design instructional strategies

  3. Design and give an assessment

  4. Give a grade or feedback

  5. Move on to a new topic


Standards-Based Practice

  1. Select standards from among those students need to know within a unit.

  2. Design an assessment through which students will have an opportunity to demonstrate those things.

  3. Decide what learning opportunities students will need to learn those things.

  4. Plan instruction to assure that each student has adequate opportunities to learn.

  5. Use data from assessment to give feedback, reteach, or move to the next level.


Setting up instruction begins with clearly outlining what students should know and be able to do and how to successfully demonstrate that knowledge.  


Know and Understand Your Standards

Take time to understand how the Iowa Core or national content standards are organized and what students are expected to know and be able to do at the particular grade level(s).

Identify Learning Targets

Identify priority learning goals within the curriculum.

Identify Reporting Standards

Identify the standards that will be on the report card. 

Understand Proficiency

Create a proficiency scale or rubric for each learning goal.  “Performance standards should clearly express “How good is good enough” and “What constitutes an A?” (Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006, p.129).


Professional Learning Activities

  • SBE Road Map Activity

    • Print and cut out pieces (8)

    • Have participants put the pieces in the order appropriate for their SBE journey.

    • Discuss the rationale of their order. (no right or wrong order)