Des Moines Public Schools has been engaged in systemic, K-12 implementation of standards-based learning and grading since 2012-2013. We commonly call it Standards-Referenced Grading, or SRG. The work began with a review of revealing district data, moved toward setting a vision, mission, purpose, and goals toward full implementation, and then began in earnest through investigation, reading, studying, discussing, planning, and professional learning.

Click here to download a copy of our 2023-24 SRG Handbook.

Click here to download a PDF with questions and answers about SRG.

SRG is distinctly different from more traditional methods of learning and grading. Older, more traditional methods included teaching through a single textbook, grading everything from homework to quizzes and tests to coming prepared to class to participation. It involved giving points to all these disparate items and then creating a percent from those points. Students were graded compared to other students. These older types of methods had no research base; they had just been in place for decades., despite distinctly unfair aspects for students.

SRG practices involve assessing students against state or national standards of learning. Student learning is measured using 4-level scales, where Level 3 is the level of meeting the grade-level standard(s) through aligned learning targets. Only academic achievement is ultimately assessed, as behaviors blended in can distort this. Since the 2000s, there has been a growing research base supporting standards-based learning and grading. Teaching in SRG classrooms draws students into partnerships with teachers, encourages them to keep track of their own learning and progress via feedback and use of topic scales, and helps them think about their learning and what they need to do next to improve.

Des Moines Public Schools has its own SRG comprehensive website HERE. You are invited to look through the entire website to explore all that we do in our standards-referenced learning & grading classrooms.