Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in School Leadership


Center for Leadership & Learning


College of Education

Committee Chair

Dr. John Freeman

Second Committee Member

Dr. Christopher E. Trombly

Third Committee Member

Dr. Steve Bounds

Program Director

Dr. John Freeman

Dean of Graduate College

Dr. Jeff Robertson


The grading practices in education are steeped in tradition. Although the inaccuracies of grading have been written about for over 100 years, schools have been slow to tackle grading reform. This research study is based on a case study which investigated the implementation of standards-based grading from traditional grading in one middle school. This case study was developed to answer one research question: How was standards-based grading implemented in the middle school? The research obtained in this case study will be used with the researcher’s own school community as they transition to standards-based grading. The case study involved semi-structured interviews of parents, teachers, and administrators along with public documents which included state mandated assessment scores and state school report cards. This study sought to extract the purpose, process, and outcomes to which the participating middle school transitioned from traditional grading to standards-based grading. The purpose for changing to standards-based grading was based on the low reading scores of graduating seniors. Over the last nine years, the process of transitioning to standards-based grading took place with several representations of the report card. The middle school’s current standards-based report card is a combination, or conversion chart of numeric levels, proficiency levels, and percentages. The outcomes for this middle school were varied based upon the individual students and their needs. Numerous lessons were learned by the researcher during this study. It is important to build capacity with all of the stakeholders when addressing the purpose of any significant change. A deep, collective understanding of the purpose for changing to standards-based grading are the foundation for a successful implementation. This type of process will vary as individual schools transition to standards-based grading, but schools must start with the end result and product clearly defined. The outcomes will be based on the building of a foundation with the purpose, as well as the level of detail and accountability throughout the process. The transition from traditional grading to standards-based grading is a daunting task that takes years to complete, but with the support and hard work of all stakeholders, it can be beneficial to the learning of all students.