According to Thomas Gusky and Robert Marzano, “The primary goal of grading and reporting is communication. Grading and reporting are integral parts of the instructional process. When done well, they provide vital information to students, parents, and other interested persons that can be used to enhance both teaching and learning. Grading and reporting certify attainment of learning goals, identify where additional work is needed and provide a basis for improvement efforts.”

Standards based grading and reporting set target goals for students to achieve. According to another educational expert, Rick Stiggins, “Students can hit any target that holds still for them.”

Middle School parents can monitor their child's assignments and grades using The Infinite Campus Portal

At Fontana School, we use standards-based grading

What is Standards-Based Grading?

Standards-based grading measures the progression of student mastery toward a specific learning goal.

Under the A-B-C grading system that parents may remember from their own grade school experiences, students were measured against each other "on a curve." Even if everyone in the class had mastered the material, some would still get a B or a C. Many times, a student's understanding of the material was summed up with a single letter grade; for example, a student may have earned a "B" in science so next to "Science" on the report card would be the single letter grade "B." In a standards-based grading system, students are rated based on the extent to which they have mastered the material, without comparison to the performance of other students. They are also assessed on each individual standard which allows parents/guardians to see a student's areas of strength as well as identify areas in need of growth under the content heading. 

Below are some frequently asked questions about standards-based grading: 

What is the purpose of the standards-based grading system?
The purpose of the standards-based report card is to provide more detailed feedback to parents and guardians regarding the progress their children are making towards specific learning standards at their grade level. Our report cards allow parents/guardians and students to understand more clearly what is expected of students and how to help them be successful in their educational program.

How do the standards-based report cards compare to the letter grade systems?
The standards-based report card measures how well an individual student is doing in relation to the grade level standards, not the work of other students. This gives parents/guardians a better understanding of their child’s strengths and weaknesses and encourage all students to do their best.

How will the ratings of 1-5 be determined?
Students’ ability to meet the learning standards are determined by both their oral and written work. For each standard, rubrics (which outline specific characteristics of performance) are used to help teachers identify the child’s proficiency level of understanding. Although the Fontana JT 8 School District uses a 5 point rating scale outlined below to report progress on standards, the actual description for the numbers provides more information than the number alone. Our goal is to have every student proficient (3) at all standards. During the 2016-17 school year, the scale was tweaked so that students and their families could get a more detailed description of where, exactly, the student lies on the proficiency scale. With the addition of "Beyond Standard Expectations-5 indicates an understanding that goes beyond the grade level, a "4" or "Exceeds Proficiency" rating can be used to more closely identify the child's level of competency within the level of "proficient." Students who have consistently shown a deep understanding of the concept/skill are identified as "Exceeds Proficiency" within the proficiency scale while a student who has demonstrated competency of the concept/skill would be at a "3."

Five Point Grading Scale Performance Descriptors






Beyond Standard Expectations: Demonstrates an exceptional understanding of the concepts and performance of the skills included in the standard and beyond.

Exceeds Proficiency: Demonstrates a deep, secure understanding of the concepts and performance of the skills included in the standard.

Proficient: Demonstrates a competent understanding of the concepts and performance of the skills included in the standard.

Developing: Demonstrates a beginning understanding of the concepts and skills included in the standard.

Not Yet Developing: Does not yet demonstrate an understanding of the concepts and cannot perform the skills included in the standard.

What are the standards?

Standards are learning goals. They are what a student should be able to know and do. Our standards have been identified and approved by the Fontana School Board of Education. Wisconsin has adopted the Common Core State Standards.

  • Content Standards refer to what students should be able to know and do.

  • Performance Standards tell how students will show that they are meeting a standard.

  • Proficiency Standards indicate how well students must perform.

The Academic Standards used by the Fontana Joint 8 School District are as follows:

For more information about Wisconsin Academic Standards, visit