Herndon High School Guide to Grading and Reporting

Download a Printable Version of this Information

Everything Standards Based

The document, Accurate Ethical Grading Principles, does not meet FCPS accessibility guidelines. If you need additional support reading or accessing this information, please reach out to Rick Wormeli ([email protected]) or visit his website.


FCPS Secondary Guidelines for Grading

The purpose of the Secondary Guidelines for Grading and Reporting is to establish grading and reporting practices at the middle and high school levels in order to reach the following goals:

  • Ensure that grades are based on student achievement, knowledge, and skill proficiency demonstrated in the classroom and are separated from work habits. 
  • Promote consistency in grading across teams, departments, and schools.
  • Promote ongoing formative feedback to students. 
  • Promote practices that encourage continuous engagement in learning.
  • Provide parents and students ongoing, credible, and useful feedback that conveys the expectations and achievement of identified standards of knowledge included in the curriculum.
  • Ensure alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.

Academic and Grading Philosophy:

At Herndon High School, we are in alignment with FCPS guidelines for grading. Furthermore, we believe in grading practices that foster a growth mindset because all students can learn and achieve; therefore, beginning in 2023-2024, we will utilize standards-based instruction/grading model in conjunction with a rolling gradebook.  This practice informs all stakeholders of the standards  students work towards in each course. This design gives students, teachers, administrators, and parents/guardians a better understanding of strengths and areas of growth for each student so that targeted support may be offered. With these grading principles, educators can provide greater clarification of student progress through our use of some common understandings and practices for grading while staying true to our commitment to a culture of deeper learning.

Brief Overview of Standards Based Instruction

Calculation of Grade for Each Standard

The grade for each standard will be determined from the student’s summative assessments. As standards are readdressed throughout the year, the updated grade for each standard will be recorded.

  • The purpose of a summative assessment is to evaluate a student's level of mastery of course standards at key points and/or endpoints during the course.  
  • A summative assessment is defined as a culminating learning experience (i.e. project, presentation, exhibition, test, etc.) that gives students an opportunity to show mastery of a course standard.

Retakes can be offered in the form of formative opportunities and as reassessments on specific standards where the student did not perform well. Alternatively, a grade for a standard can be replaced if a standard is revisited at another time during the school year. 

Quarterly Grade Calculation 

Quarterly grades are a snapshot in time and will not necessarily have documentation of all standards. In a rolling gradebook, the quarter grades do not average together at the end of the year; they simply provide a checkpoint on student progress a few times throughout the year. 


Depending on the specific course, final exams will take the form of one of the following options:

  • A reflective or formative activity
  • An assessment on specific standard(s) where the student did not perform well

A traditional cumulative exam (this will count within the regular grade calculation and not as a separate grade section in the gradebook)

End of Year Grade Calculation 

Each standard will weigh equally in the year-end grade. The grades for each standard will be added together and divided by the number of standards assigned to this course. 

Grading Scale

This aligns with the FCPS Grading Scale for Secondary Grading and Reporting

Explanation of Grading Scale

Grade Range/Mastery Definition/Communication


  • A (98-100) 4.0 GPA
  • A- (92-100) 3.7 GPA

Consistent demonstration of applying, recognizing, and transferring the standard

  • “I can apply my knowledge in different situations or from different perspectives.”
  • “I can do this well enough to teach others.”


  • B+ (87-89) 3.3 GPA
  • B (83-86) 3.0 GPA
  • B- (80-82) 2.7 GPA

Demonstrates understanding of the standard with few errors

  • “I can complete all of my work independently, but I might make minor mistakes.”


  • C+ (77-79) 2.3 GPA
  • C (73-76) 2.0 GPA
  • C- (70-72) 1.7 GPA

Partial understanding or demonstration of the standard; requires some additional support

  • “I can complete some of my work.”
  • “I am not confident that I am doing it right without help.”
  • “I am in the process of learning to do this, but need more practice or help.”


  • D+ (67-69) 1.3 GPA
  • D (64-66) 1.0 GPA

Minimal demonstration of understanding of the standard; unable to demonstrate understanding without significant support

  • “I cannot complete any of my work without help.”

Insufficient Evidence

  • F (51-63) 0.0 GPA
  • F (50) 0.0 GPA

No evidence of understanding yet

  • “I turned in completed work, but my work does not show that I understand."
  • “I did not turn in any work.”


  • CT - collaborative team; a team of teachers who teach the same course for the year.  Example:  Biology, English 10; US VA history
  • Course Standards - standards created by the VDOE, FCPS, the College Board, and/or partner colleges that we teach and assess throughout the year
  • Formative Assessment - an opportunity for students to demonstrate learning of a standard, or a portion of a standard, and receive feedback; based on the results, teachers will design instruction to clarify any misunderstandings or to advance learning; with standards-based grading, formative assessments are check-ins that do not calculate into the student’s grade
  • Growth Mindset - a belief  that all students are capable of learning and need practice to do so; the amount of practice needed is individualized and not intended to punish a student
  • Mastery of Learning - a system of instruction, assessment, grading, and academic reporting based on student demonstration of acquisition of the knowledge of the standards of learning they are expected to progress in through their education
  • Objectives - statements which encapsulate the learning goal for the day, the unit, and the year that are derived from the standards
  • Practice and Preparation: Practice and preparation (including homework) are opportunities for students to receive individualized feedback on their learning.  Work assigned in this manner is formative and will not be calculated into the grade (though it may be used to inform professional judgment of a summative grade). This work can be completed in and/or out of the classroom. Practice and preparation may look like studying, revising, reading, brainstorming, and/or practicing skills. When assigning preparation and practice work, Herndon’s teachers consider the purpose and the quantity, ensuring that the type and amount is appropriate for students.  Without completing practice and preparation, students may be unprepared for further learning and graded assessments. 
  • Rolling Gradebook - a cumulative documentation of learning; unlike quarterly gradebooks, a rolling gradebook documents learning on an ongoing basis throughout the year. This grading and reporting practice allows for increased opportunities for students to show their highest level of learning on individual standards.
  • Rubric - a grading tool for evaluating student work which specifies the qualities or traits to be evaluated in a given assignment
  • Skills - the action students take in order to demonstrate learning of the standards
  • Standards - educational objectives of what students should learn in a given course; depending on the course, we use the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) standards, the FCPS Program of Studies, the College Board standards (AP), and/or the standards from a partner college (dual enrollment). 
  • Standards-based approach to instruction – instruction is planned, implemented, and assessed based upon prescribed learning standards in each course.
  • Standards-based Grading (SBG) - a grading and reporting practice to communicate student progress of the course standards; grades directly assessing a standard/skill determine the overall grade. Student progress is evaluated every quarter based on performance on each standard for each course based on expectations for the curriculum taught during that period of time. Students are given practice on the standard prior to assessment. Standards-based grading is a way to communicate what students know at a point in time rather than an average of performance over an entire period. This practice informs all stakeholders of the essential standards students learn in each subject area in a particular course.  It is designed to give students, teachers, administrators, and parents/guardians a better understanding of strengths and areas of growth for that student.
  • Summative Assessment - a culminating learning experience (i.e. project, presentation, exhibition, test, etc.) that allows students to demonstrate evidence of learning of the standards; students may have opportunities to demonstrate their learning through different modes of assessment. The purpose of an assessment is to evaluate a student's level of mastery of essential course skills and Portrait of a Graduate (POG) skills at key inflection points and/or endpoints during the course. 


This is not an exhaustive list, but it does provide a starting point for further information. 

  • The Standards Based Classroom: Make Learning the Goal by Emily Rinkema and Stan Williams
  • Grading from the Inside Out: Bringing Accuracy to Student Assessment through a Standards-Based Mindset by Tom Schimmer

FCPS Secondary Grading and Reporting 

FCPS Elementary Grading and Reporting

Ted Talk 

What is Standards Based Grading?

Powerschool and SBG

Seven Reasons For Standards-Based Grading 

What is Standards Based Grading?

Standards-Based Grading and College Admissions