Grading as a Reform Effort: Do Standards-Based Grades Converge With Test Scores?


Megan E. Welsh, Department of Educational Psychology, Gentry Building Room 335, 249 Glenbrook Road, Unit 3064, Storrs, CT 06269-3064; Jerome D'Agostino, College of Education and Human Ecology, 210A Ramseyer Hall, 29 W. Woodruff Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210. Burcu Kaniskan, Pearson, 19500 Bulverde Road, San Antonio, TX 78259-3701.


Standards-based progress reports (SBPRs) require teachers to grade students using the performance levels reported by state tests and are an increasingly popular report card format. They may help to increase teacher familiarity with state standards, encourage teachers to exclude nonacademic factors from grades, and/or improve communication with parents. The current study examines the SBPR grade–state test score correspondence observed across 2 years in 125 third and fifth grade classrooms located in one school district to examine the degree of consistency between grades and state test results. It also examines the grading practices of a subset of 37 teachers to determine whether there is an association between teacher appraisal style and convergence rates. A moderate degree of grade–test score convergence was observed using three agreement estimates (coefficient kappa, tau-b correlations, and classroom-level mean differences between grades and test scores). In addition, only small amounts of grade–test score convergence were observed between teachers; a much greater proportion of variance lay within classrooms and subjects. Appraisal style correlated weakly with convergence rates, but was most strongly related to assigning students to the same performance level as the test. Therefore using recommended grading practices may improve the quality of SBPR grades to some extent.