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In 2015 Kindergarten teachers began researching alternate report cards that would provide skill mastery information to families. This led to a multi-year task force of teacher work groups dedicated to moving to a standards-based instruction and reporting process. The first Kindergarten report card was released in January 2018 and Grades 1-4 unveiled their new report cards in November 2018. The initial feedback from K-4 parents was resoundingly positive.


  • Standards-Clear statements of what we expect students to know and be able to do.
  • Instruction-Teaching focused on the specific learning targets in the standards and application of that learning to new situations. 
  • Assessment-Measurement of student evidence of learning. 


Starting in 2018 departments at Belgrade Middle School began to receive training and have time to work on developing the components of a standards aligned system.  As of December 2019 all middle school departments have received at least initial training on the SBI process and have begun to plan for a standards based report card to be published in the Fall of 2021. 

Belgrade administrators were trained in PLC and SBI during 2019. This is a critical step as the district has scheduled PLC time each Friday for the first time in history. This hour is dedicated to professional development, data analysis and planning that will positively impact student achievement.


The move to standards referenced instruction was a deliberate choice to:

  1. Increase clarity for teachers and parents about what is learned and reported.
  2. Use assessment to guide instruction rather than just provide an averaged grade.
  3. Provide an improved tool for communicating student achievement to families.
  4. Separate academic achievement from behavior and other factors.

The full implementation of Standards-Based grading practices at the Middle School is an ongoing process. The district will strive to improve communication with parents about their students' performance in school. There are no plans to alter the current grading structure at Belgrade High School for the foreseeable future.


Parent Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are we changing how we report grades in K-8?
Our current grading system was originally designed to separate students into categories: college students vs. laborers. A single letter isn’t effective in communicating a student’s performance and achievement. Our challenge is to prepare all students with a standard of knowledge and skills, to provide feedback that informs instruction and to communicate with parents about their child’s strengths and deficits.

Q: Don’t the textbooks companies hire experts to do all this work for us?
Textbook companies include as many standards and activities as possible to make the book attractive to certain states and all teachers. They make no effort to prioritize and operate on a “one size fits all” approach. While we can use texts and online resources, we want to adjust materials based on student needs.

Q: Does this mean I will spend more time assessing and not very much time teaching?
Absolutely not! Standards-based instruction, grading, and reporting is not about testing. In fact, teachers will collaborate to create clear and efficient assessments of standards for the purposes of reporting and supporting standards that will shorten and lighten the testing load.

Q: How will we know if a MS or HS student is eligible for school activities?
Schools that have extra-curricular activities will develop a system of accountability to determine eligibility. Completion of assignments at a proficient level will likely be the target.

Q: Can a student advance to the next grade if they have not demonstrated a 2.0 level of performance on the standards?
Yes, the record of what specific standards the student has mastered and/or needs more work on will be a great advantage for next year’s teachers so they can accommodate needs much earlier than in a traditional model. If students are significantly behind, then perhaps further testing needs to be done to see if the student needs additional support.

Q: What does a teacher do with the student who passes the standard on the very first try?
This is the proverbial challenge of teaching---accommodating those who are at either end of the instructional spectrum. Teachers can have independent activities planned for those students. Some schools have found success dividing students up into enrichment groups for those who show early mastery and reteaching groups for those who need another try. Utilize other resource people such as the librarian or Gifted-Talented Teacher.

Q: Is this an initiative that will go away with time or changes of staff?
Standards-based instruction (SBI) is gaining a strong foothold in our country as well as internationally. SBI and grading is based on the principle that grades should convey how well students have achieved standards. Belgrade Public Schools believe that grades are not about what students earn but about what students learn.

Q: What is the timeline for including electives and special classes in SBI?
There is no firm timeline right now, but we will update plans regularly throughout this process. Implementation of a major change is tricky. We want to go fast enough that we keep the momentum, but not so fast that people don’t have time to work through the details of a complex process. It’s best if all departments in a grade band can progress at nearly the same pace.

Q: Why Standards Based Instruction?
It makes sense that if we're going to increase learning we need to be more clear about what we want students to know and be able to do and then agreeing on how we're going to assess that learning.

Q: Has Standards Based Instruction been successful?
Yes, the highest achieving schools in the world use this approach to increase student achievement. This isn't a new approach in education even though it is new to us. In much of our district we are seeing increased learning as we focus our instruction with Standards Based Learning.

Q: How do PLC's work into the Standards Based Instruction plans?
PLC's (Professional Learning Communities) are a process that helps us structure our conversations about what we want students to know, how we'll assess them and how we'll follow up if they know it or haven't learned it yet. They go hand in hand.

Q: Is time available for learning content other than standards?
Absolutely---think of standards as the minimum competencies that we want students to have so that they can extend their learning in interactive units, blended learning, and self-directed projects. The curriculum and instruction are much larger than the set of standards that are housed under the curricular umbrella.