Standards-Based Grading Newsletter

Dear Mustang Families,

Thank you for the incredible attendance at Wednesday’s Back to School Night, and our Administrator Meet and Greet! It was our best attended BTSN in recent memory. Parents are essential partners in education for our students, and we appreciate your engagement.

We understand that our Standards-Based Grading (SBG) Information Session before BTSN fell short of what many were expecting. The topic required more time than allotted, and regrettably, many questions remain unanswered. To support more in-depth learning and understanding, we will provide six (6) informational sessions about SBG and how it will support student learning. 

Administrators from Henderson and Mason, our MYP coordinator, and our SBG Coach will offer the sessions below to support your understanding of this process and field all additional questions.  

  • Tuesday, September 24th - 6:00 PM - Henderson Cafetorium

  • Thursday, September 26th - 9:00 AM - Mason Library

  • Tuesday, October 22nd - 6:00 PM - Mason Cafeteria

  • Thursday, October 24th - 9:00 AM - Henderson Cafetorium

  • Monday, November 4th (Conference Day - Mason Only - (9:30am & 3:00pm)

Lastly, on September 18th, at 7 PM, the Henderson and GMHS PTSAs will host a joint evening to present information about standards-based grading and the New GMHS construction process. More details about this evening will be forthcoming from the PTSA. 

For immediate SBG questions, please reach out to our SBG Coach, Peter Laub at 

The following document is meant to describe further the rationale behind SBG: 

Standards-Based Grading Cohort 1 at George Mason High School

As one of the premier IB school districts in the nation, we want to ensure assessment and grading practices are accurate, fair, and aligned with both instructional best practices and our IB programs.

What is Standards-Based Grading?

Standards-Based Grading at Mary Ellen Henderson and George Mason is a system in which students receive feedback about their proficiency on a set of defined subject-specific criteria. Schools report students' levels of performance on these criteria.

This is a more equitable assessment practice because it:

●         Focuses on individual student learning versus competition

●         Separates behavior from academic proficiency

●         Provides students with specific, actionable, and meaningful feedback to improve performance

●         Allows students to demonstrate mastery over time and transfer learning

●         Establishes clarity and consistency for teachers, students, and parents

●         Challenges students to set realistic, relevant goals for themselves; and track their progress

Why make this change?

We believe that reporting growth and progress towards mastery of subject-specific criteria allows students to take ownership of their learning. This practice aligns with Falls Church City Public Schools’ vision to be a premier IB division. We believe this best practice allows us to focus on improving student achievement and to foster reflective, life-long learners, as part of the IB’s mission.

Students are at the center of all IB programmes. Standards-based grading creates a student-centered environment by providing student voice and choice in how students demonstrate their understanding of the content to meet the criteria descriptors. Students also reflect on their progress toward mastery and set their own, individual goals for how they will approach their learning to improve their performance.

According to MYP: From Principles into Practice, assessment in the MYP aims to:

●  support and encourage student learning by providing feedback on the learning process

●  provide an opportunity for students to exhibit transfer of skills across subjects

●  promote positive student attitudes towards learning

●  deepen understanding of subject content and foster international-mindedness by supporting students in their inquiries set in a real-world context

●  promote the development of critical, creative, and social-emotional skills (ATL)

As we have previously shared with you, as a full continuum IB school system, we strive to align our instructional and assessment practices to the mission and values of IB.  One way in which we are moving closer to this value is with our shift to standards-based grading. For some, this approach will seem new and unfamiliar, and it's our goal to support you and your child through each step of the process.  Below is a list of courses where students’ grades will be reported using IB MYP standards:

Electives Grade 9 Grade 10
Chorus, Theater, TV & Media Production Algebra I, Language and Literature, PE and Health, World History II AP Government, AP Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science, & Geometry

Matt Hills

You can find current and past issues of the GMHS Hitching Posts 
from Principal Hills on the GMHS website at the link below:
Principal's Newsletter
Does your student need a tutor or a quiet place to study? 
Check out the link below:
Saturday Learning Lounge

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