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Proficiency Based Grading (PBG) Updates

Many districts across Utah are working towards Proficiency Based Grading. Currently all elementary schools in Granite School District should have implemented PBG and junior highs are implementing PBG this school year. High schools will follow in the near future. The hope is that PBG will make the learning process more transparent and student-centered.

Here’s how PBG will work:

  1. Teachers will provide learning activities (homework) to help each student learn the skills they need to know to become proficient on a given standard. These activities will be centered on the standards established in the core curriculum.

  2. Homework will be geared to move a student towards a specific standard but will not count towards a grade. Homework will be a learning activity not an assessment.

  3. PBG removes extra credit and bonus points from the classroom.

  4. A student’s PBG grades will be determined by how they perform on standard-based classroom assessments.

  5. Students will be assessed three times on a new standard before a score is generated.Teachers may choose to give more than three assessments on a specific standard.

  6. Students will be able to re-take assessments if they choose.

  7. Students proficiency is determined ONLY by how well they show what they’ve learned on their assessments

  8. The scores that will be given are 1 – 4 … 1 is Below Proficient and a 4 is Above Proficient.

  9. Prior to an assessment, teachers should let all students know what will be expected on the assessment to earn a 1 – 4 on the PBG grading scale.

  10. Scores will be entered for assessments given and students will not receive traditional grades of A, B, C, D, F.

  11. PBG will be determined using a decaying average.


First Assessment: 12% of student’s grade (after 4th assessment, earlier scores will become part of the 12%) Next Assessment: 23% of student’s grade Most Recent Assessment: 65% of student’s grade

What does this mean for students who have ADHD, test anxiety and other learning disorders?Many of the traditional accommodations and modifications that are implemented through a 504 Plan or IEP are built into PBG. The hope is that students will feel that they have quite a bit of control over their learning.

These accommodations include:

  1. Additional time for homework completion

  2. Opportunities to resubmit assignments until proficiency is achieved

  3. Extra time on assessments if needed

  4. Opportunity to retake assessments or make corrections for full points, no averaging of points

  5. Teachers will make sure that a student understands a concept before introducing a new concept

  6. For students that have a “light sensitivity” color overlays can be accessed on some computers for assessments

  7. Headphones will be available for some assessments and homework – this will help with multi-sensory learning.

During tutoring sessions continue to do the following:

  1. Encourage accountability and remind students that self-advocating is important.

  2. Focus on performance-praise vs person-praise. Research shows that it’s best to focus on the performance of a student not his or her intelligence. Avoid statements like “You’re so smart in math.” Instead share, “You worked really hard on this assignment and I’m proud of your effort.”

  3. Help students be problem-focused vs emotion-focused. Problem-focused coping targets the cause of their stress allowing kids to engage in strategies that will help them view the demands of school as manageable and less threatening.

NOTE: Olympus Junior and Evergreen will make PBG optional in 9th grade classes this year because the high schools are further behind in implementing PBG. If teachers use PBG in 9 th grade a student’s final grade will be converted to a traditional grade – A, B, C, D, F.

About the author

Vikki Carrel

Academic Language Therapist, Multi-book Author, National Speaker

Vikki empowers people! She is an Academic Language Therapist, multi-book author and a national speaker. Vikki grew up in Salt Lake City, met her husband at the University of Utah, and has owned several companies across the United States. In 2010, Vikki and her husband moved back to Utah from Doylestown, Pennsylvania and she founded Vikki Carrel & Company, a speaking and training organization. Read more about the Author

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