Standards-Based Grading and Reporting in FCPS

By Kevin Morris
Principal's Corner
February 05, 2020

As we begin the 3rd quarter of the 2019-2020 school year, every family should have received a progress report for your child. Remember, you have the option to request a parent conference by indicating “request a conference” on the progress report envelopes. If you have not already done so, please return those envelopes to your child’s teacher. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s progress report, do not hesitate to ask your child’s teacher. Parent / teacher communication is key to your child’s success.

Asking your child specific questions about their progress report can help keep them engaged in learning. Some examples include:

  • What successes should we celebrate!? (Review the progress report together)
  • What is something you’re proud of from your progress report? Why?
  • Where did you put in extra effort this quarter? How does that show?

Understanding your child’s progress report may be difficult, particularly for any of our families new to Fairfax County Public Schools. As a reminder, FCPS utilizes standards-based grading and progress reporting at the elementary school level. The standards are the “big ideas” that are taught in each content area. Standards-based grading is a way to communicate what students know at a point in time rather than an average of performance over an entire period

Additionally, standards-based reporting gives insight into multiple areas (standards) in a subject area, rather than one overall grade for the performance in a subject area. Lastly, an important consideration when reviewing these 2nd quarter progress reports is to be cautious to compare subject and content areas from the 1st quarter. Each quarter students interact with different standards within the FCPS curriculum. It wouldn’t be uncommon for a student to achieve a 4 for a specific reporting category during one quarter of learning, and then that student may achieve a 3, 2 or 1 on that same reporting category in another quarter of learning.  

For an example of how this might occur, let’s consider the mathematics reporting category, “Computes numbers with fluency and makes reasonable estimates.” In one quarter of instruction a curriculum expectation might be for a student to round numbers to the nearest 10 or 100. In the same quarter of instruction, a student may be expected to add two-digit by two-digit numbers without regrouping (“carrying the 1”). For this reporting category, a teacher may determine that the student achieved a 4, consistently demonstrates concepts and skills of standard taught in this quarter.

In another quarter of learning, a student may be expected to round numbers to the nearest tenth or hundredth (decimals), or be expected to add three-digit by three-digit numbers with regrouping. These curriculum expectations can be considerably more challenging for students, and therefore the same student could have achieved a 2, sometimes demonstrates concepts and skills of standard taught this quarter. An immediate reaction might be, “My child’s progress has dropped,” when in fact, your child is just engaging with more challenging standards than a previous quarter of learning.

FCPS provides parents with important information regarding grading and reporting. Use this link to learn more about elementary grading and reporting.