Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Donald Angelaccio

Second Advisor

Christine Nelson

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Minor


Implementation of standards-based grading (SBG) practices can be a high benefit, low-cost initiative that directly impacts student achievement and growth. This case study aimed to determine if the theoretical value of SBG outlined in research aligns to the students’ perspectives of its value on academic learning, growth and development of 21st century skills. Secondary students were interviewed and responses were organized into three themes: development of 21st century learner attributes, strengths of SBG and areas to improve. Results revealed that SBG supports individualized learning pace, development of a growth mindset, emotional well-being, student to teacher collaboration and 21st century learner attributes such as self-monitoring, self-assessment and self-directed learning. Areas of change include continued parent education, teacher consistency across classrooms, and clarification of success criteria and rate of growth relative to enduring standards.



One year into writing this dissertation, the world was faced with the global Coronavirus pandemic. The effects of the pandemic were unprecedented. The entire landscape of education was changed as schools were forced to educate students remotely. Inequities in educational access became starkly visible as educators worked to provide quality remote experiences to students with limited technological resources. Innovation, creativity and flexibility became the norm as teachers worked to develop effective pedagogies in a virtual classroom. Students were isolated from the supports of in-person learning and were forced to become stewards of their own learning. However, the students of Finlay Middle School and Lincoln High School overcame the burdens of the pandemic and learning loss was significantly less than what was witnessed in schools across the state and the country.

I am confident that the students’ success during the pandemic was attributed to the dedication, innovation and commitment of the staff. Additionally, I believe that students’ pre-pandemic experiences with standards-based grading provided the training for remote learning. By having learned the skills of self-assessment, self-monitoring and self-directed learning they truly became effective stewards of their own learning. I am hopeful this case study provides the impetus for teachers and school leaders to commit to standards-based grading because of its value to enhance learning, regardless of its venue.