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An independent JrK-12 college preparatory school 
located in Concord, North Carolina

5th Grade Primer on Grading and Assessment

What is the 5th Grade Primer on Grading and Assessment?

The 5th Grade Primer on Grading and Assessment is comprised of three parts, all of which are available on this webpage:

  1. The Presentation, with audio narrative - an introduction to the topic of grading and assessment
  2. The Glossary - a list of terms and concepts discussed in this primer
  3. The Podcasts:
    • Episode 1: 2018-2019 Pilot Year
    • Episode 2: 2019-2020 Grading and Feedback in 5th Grade (coming soon)
It is recommended that you approach the parts in the order listed, spending time to watch and listen to the PowerPoint Presentation first to familiarize yourself with the concepts. Refer to the Glossary as needed, and finally, listen to the Podcasts featuring Director of Studies Fabio Hurtado and Head of Middle School Carla Moyer as they discuss the benefits of standards-based grading and a focus on the journey of growth. For those interested in additional reading on this topic, refer to the article Leading Their Own Learning extracted from the summer 2018 issue of Cannon Magazine. Please contact Fabio Hurtado with any questions regarding the material presented.



List of 12 items.

  • Assessment, grading, grade reporting (Three different things)

    Think of an assessment as a test or quiz or the essay you had to finish writing by midnight so you could turn it in. Anything a teacher uses to figure out whether a student knows or understands material is called an assessment by teachers. Grading is the process of assigning you a number value for an assignment and then averaging those numbers together. Grade reporting is exactly what is sounds like: it is the report card you see at the end of a trimester or year.
  • What is traditional grading?

    This is what most of us had when we went to middle school and high school. You get a grade from 0-100 and that gets averaged with other grades and then you end up with a report card that shows you a final grade as a number and typically as a letter (A-F). This is the grading model most schools continue to use. The problem with it is that it does not give sufficiently specific feedback for a student to know what skill or knowledge she needs to improve. This method may also greatly skew a final grade if student’s receive a “0” on an assessment.
  • What does a SBG report card look like?

    In a standards-based grading (SBG) report card each skill or learning outcome within a subject area receives a separate “grade” or level of mastery. Students and parents can read the individual learning outcome/standard/skill and then engage in more learning to show mastery of the specific standard. On our SBG report card you will not see number or letter grades.
  • What is feedback?

    Feedback is anything we give a student to guide the learning and encourage future learning toward mastery. It ranges from a comment in class to a grade on a test. It’s all feedback. Good feedback is specific and targeted and helps a student learn and understanding the target for learning. Good feedback helps a student go from where they are to where competency/mastery is.
  • Mastery: what is it?

    This word has become important the educational world of independent schools. It mostly refers to the level of competence a student can achieve in a skill. Think of it as synonymous with competence. Our aim is to increase in mastery by attempting to hit a learning target one or multiple times.
  • What is a standard and how does it reflect a learning outcome/target?

    A standard is a learning outcome or learning target that a student is aiming for. It can be based on knowing content or on a skill or habit. It is specific enough so that a student can use it to understand what he knows and what she still has to learn/do. SBG gets its name from the fact that all the grading is based on a set of standards that a student must aim for and hopefully hit.
  • Grades: What does growth have to do with it?

    In standards based grading a grade earned later in a trimester has more value than a grade earned in the early going. This is the practical way that SBG promotes a growth mindset. Growth is also encouraged when a student can see specific learning targets as grades versus simply a number.
  • Authentic assessment and Project based learning

    Think of this as an assessment that asks students to apply and use and manipulate and understand knowledge in a way that engages the student voice and often gives choice and provides a real audience or real-world application for student product or artifact created. Contrast this to multiple-choice, matching,and standardized tests. This is the type of assessment that 5th grade will use when doing our major projects this year.
  • Habits and Co-cognitive skills (Tabula Rasa)

    It is also important to understand that education is a process of building habits. At Cannon we rely on our AE Habits. We assert that good habits make the learning of content knowledge possible and easier. Curiosity sparks learning. So do risk-taking and communication and reflection. Some folks in the education world call our AE Habits by the name non-cognitive or co-cognitive skills.
  • Narrative Comments

    Specific and individual comments written by teachers at the end of first and second trimester that tells parents and students the students' specific strengths and growth areas in each subject area.
  • Content knowledge

    These are the facts of any subject area. Do you know a noun from a verb? Can you multiply 7x8? Do you know how to identify a parallelogram? What is the name of the sea south of Athens, Greece?
  • How can assessment be mission-aligned?

    We aim to assess students in a manner which encourages them to make multiple attempts at acquiring content knowledge and habits of mind so that learning for them becomes a journey of growth. Our role is to engage them and nurture them along this journey lasting a lifetime.


Episode 1: Pilot Year

Episode 2: Grading and Feedback in 5th Grade

Our 5th grade teachers Annalee Taylor (English), Jeremy Mattsson (Science), Kristen Stephens (Math), and Paul Borowicz (Social Studies) join Director of Studies Fabio Hurtado to talk about grading and feedback in 5th grade. Lower School and Middle School Academic Deans Melissa Fox and Catherine Jones also round out the conversation.

Cannon School

Phone: 704-786-8171 | Fax: 704-788-7779