Standards-Based Reporting

Standards-Based Reporting (SBR)

An Introduction & Glossary

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SBR Parent Presentation Fall 2014 - Click here to see the slideshow that was presented in October, 2014.


What is a Standards-Based Reporting (SBR) System?

A Standards-Based reporting system is designed to inform parents about their child’s progress towards achieving specific reporting standards. The reporting standards have high and challenging performance expectations for all students. The Reporting Standards reflect academic enduring understandings and the curricular standards and benchmarks.

The general goal of standards-based learning is to ensure that students are acquiring the knowledge and skills and work habits that are deemed to be essential to success in school, higher education, careers, and adult life. If students fail to meet expected learning standards, they can typically receive additional instruction, practice time, and academic supportto help them achieve proficiency or meet the learning expectations described in the standards.

At Shanghai American School, the term standards-based refers to system that impacts instruction, assessment, evaluation and reporting; all based on students demonstrating growth within our identified learning behaviors, along with growth of targeted learning skills in each subject area.

Shanghai American School Middle Schools, on both the Puxi and Pudong campuses, are in the midst of integrating Standards-Based Reporting (SBR) into various subject areas. This is an exciting step towards ensuring that all students are successful at meeting grade level standards. Further, we are excited about the increased amount of feedback that students and families will receive as a result of this type of reporting system.

The new report card communicates whether or not a student is:

  • Exceeding the standard
  • Meeting the standard
  • Approaching the standard
  • Beginning the standard

A digital report card is issued three times annually, and it provides information on student progress and proficiency in the following subject areas: Art, Math, Health, Science, Physical Education, Language Arts, Band, Social Studies, Strings, Drama, Choir, French, Spanish and Chinese. Due to an ongoing curriculum review cycle, Humanities (taught on the Pudong campus) will be phased in next year. This means that Humanities uses a traditional numerical reporting system until they are ready for SBR in 2015-2016.

The standards-based report card is helpful in several ways. First, it helps make sure there is more consistency of expectations from teacher to teacher. It also helps teachers and students focus on the standards from the very beginning of the school year, giving students the opportunity to get help early if they are not making adequate progress. Finally, it gives parents more detailed information on how their student is doing based on the standards.

Why the move to a standards-based reporting system?

This is about learning, not grading!

The change to a Standards-Based Reporting system comes from the belief that our previous report card and reporting system did not fully communicate what students are expected to know and be able to do as set forth by the SAS curriculum.

This new reporting system will benefit students, teachers and families.  It will allow students to be more aware of what is expected of them. It will provide families with a more detailed outline of the expectations in each of the affected academic areas.  We believe that your understanding of what is expected of your child and how well he or she is progressing towards the goals at his or her grade level is very important and that the SBR system will assist in this endeavor.

What is the purpose of the standards-based report card?

This standards‐based report card will empower students and parents to understand and reflect upon:

• Current learning behaviors and academic progress;

• Successes and growth;

• Suggestions for further learning.


Assessment – Assessment is a process of learning feedback, designed to modify instruction, communicate the attainment of the learning targets, and enhance learning. In standards-based schools, teachers use a wide variety of instructional and assessment methods to collect evidence of learning, and to determine whether students have met the reporting standards. Formative and summative assessment strategies often go well beyond traditional quizzes and tests. Assessment strategies linked to 21st century learning skills and project-based learning, include demonstrations of learning such as: personal learning projects, portfolios, blogging, mixing, lab work, field work, working collaboratively within online platforms (wikis or Google docs), reviewing and analyzing, reverse engineering, practicing and playing, editing, programming and many others.

Academic Progress – In traditional grading, students are given numerical scores on a 1–100 scale and class grades represent an average of all scores earned over the course of a trimester or year. In our standards-based reporting system, “grades” are not used. What is seen, are descriptors connected to reporting standards, not based on test and assignment scores that are averaged together. In PowerSchool, students and parents receive frequent updates that show how students are progressing toward meeting a selection of standards, in each subject area.

Academic Standard – These types of standards are designed for planning instruction and assessments. There are many academic standards in all of our subject areas, with many more identifiable benchmarks that guide the way to learning. They are highly specific in comparison to reporting standards, usually expressed in “educator language”.

Curriculum – Refers to the organized means and materials with which students will interact for the purpose of achieving identified educational outcomes. A curriculum is not defined by a textbook, rather a curriculum in any subject area, uses a wide variety of resources that best determine a pathway for student learning. The curriculum consists of all the planned, but also the unplanned experiences that our school offers as part of the educational experience that directly and indirectly impacts student learning.

Formative Assessment – In-process observations for learning, which allow our teachers and students to determine the degree to which students demonstrate learning growth through multiple learning tasks. These tasks help identify what the student does not know or is unable to do. The outcomes of these types of assessments help suggest future steps for teaching and learning.

Learning Behaviors – Also referred to as “work habits”. At SAS, we assess behavior and academic progress separately. Our Learning Behavior system has been in place since 2010-2011. The Performance Indicators for Learning Behaviors have been aligned with the performance indicators for Standards-Based Reporting.

Proficiency – The common descriptors that teachers will use in the SBR system are described as follows: Beginning, Approaching, Meeting and Exceeding. In our Middle Schools, the term proficiency is used in a variety of ways, most commonly in reference to (1) proficiency levels, scales on rubrics, tests and other forms of assessments, (2) students achieving or failing to achieve proficiency levels determined by tests and assessments, (3) students demonstrating or failing to demonstrate proficiency in relation to reporting standards.

Reporting Standard (Sometimes referred to as a reportable) – Reporting standards are concise, written descriptions of what students are expected to know and be able to do at a specific stage of their education. As reporting standards serve as the basis for the Shanghai American School curriculum, instruction and assessment model, they help determine the goals of a lesson or course, and teachers then determine how and what to teach students so they achieve the learning expectations described in the standards. There are typically 3-7 reporting standards in our subject areas.

Summative Assessment – Assessment used to judge and communicate the attainment of learning, at the end of an identified learning period. Evaluation at the conclusion of a learning period used to judge student skills, understanding, and knowledge, along with the learning habits that positively help for success in all of our subject areas.

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs

What about High Schools and Universities? Will they accept SAS Middle School courses? 

The quick answer is YES!

Now the details…

The grades that students receive in high school will depend upon the degree to which they meet their teachers’ communicated expectations. Students who meet grade level content standards in middle school and practice developing scholarly skills reflected by the student attributes (such as taking responsibility and attending to detail), are potentially on track to perform very well and receive good grades in high school. Historically, students who pay attention, study and produce quality work find educational, career, and personal success no matter what the grading system.

Universities do not not look at Middle School courses for the purposes of determining acceptance. That being said, there are many High Schools that use SBR, so take the time to read the Hanover Report to learn more what Universities say about SBR.

How can my child exceed the standards?

Another change for students is understanding the concept of exceeding the Standard. Exceeding is not the equivalent of an A on a traditional report card. For example, if a fifth-grader received A’s on every math test during the marking period, he or she would probably receive an A on a traditional report card. If those math tests measured only the concepts fifth graders are expected to master, those A’s would be the equivalent of meeting the standard on a Standards-Based report card; the student is doing what he or she should be doing very well, but not necessarily more. Standards-Based report cards encourage students to demonstrate their ability to apply skills and knowledge beyond grade level expectations.  Performance is characterized by self-motivation and the ability to apply skills with consistent accuracy, independence, and a high level of quality.

Without grades, how will my child remain motivated?

Research has shown that letter grades do not motivate students to learn.  On the contrary, research has found three consistent effects of using – and especially, emphasizing the importance of – letter or number grades:

  1. Grades tend to reduce students’ interest in the learning itself.  One of the most well-researched findings in the field of motivational psychology is that the more people are rewarded for doing something, the more they tend to lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward (Kohn, 1993).  Thus, it shouldn’t be surprising that when students are told they’ll need to know something for a test – or, more generally, that something they’re about to do will count for a grade – they are likely to come to view that task (or book or idea) as a chore.
  2. Grades tend to reduce students’ preference for challenging tasks.  Students of all ages who have been led to concentrate on getting a good grade are likely to pick the easiest possible assignment if given a choice (Harter, 1978; Harter and Guzman, 1986; Kage, 1991; Milton et al., 1986).  The more pressure to get an A, the less inclination to truly challenge oneself.  Thus, students who cut corners may not be lazy as much as rational; they are adapting to an environment where good grades, not intellectual exploration, are what count.
  3. Grades tend to reduce the quality of students’ thinking.  Given that students may lose interest in what they’re learning as a result of grades, it makes sense that they’re also apt to think less deeply.  One series of studies, for example, found that students given numerical grades were significantly less creative than those who received qualitative feedback but no grades.  The more the task required creative thinking, in fact, the worse the performance of students who knew they were going to be graded.  Providing students with comments in addition to a grade didn’t help: the highest achievement occurred only when comments were given instead of numerical scores (Butler, 1987; Butler, 1988; Butler and Nisan, 1986).

Intrinsic motivation is the most powerful kind of motivation – when a student is involved in the learning process by knowing their strengths and where they need to improve, the student can work with teachers and parents to set meaningful goals of excellence, strive to achieve the goals, and experience success.

My child is academically strong.  How will standards-based teaching, learning and grading challenge my child?

Rest assured, that our teachers are continuing to lead meaningful and challenging classes. Our excellent teachers use a variety of teaching methods, and with learning in mind, teachers design lessons and activities that promote our mission statement and keep students engaged.

Through standards-based instructional methods of pre-assessment, teachers will know if students have already mastered concepts prior to a lesson or unit.  It will give teachers an early opportunity to provide meaningful and challenging work for these students.  In the classroom, teachers have always been, and continue to be, required to challenge the students who are achieving at or above grade level.  Teachers differentiate instruction so that students continue to grow and progress.  This will be no different with the new reporting tool.  In fact, more than ever, they will be able to see who is really meeting the standard and who needs additional instruction or intervention.

For more answers to additional FAQs, please see the following link.





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