Target Based Grading

What is Target-Based Grading?

Target-Based Grading communicates how a student is performing on a set of clearly defined learning targets, by identifying what a student knows and what he/she still needs to learn. 

It provides meaningful feedback about a student’s learning and clearly communicates whether he/she has met a learning target or if he/she needs to engage in additional learning opportunities in order to reach proficiency on that target.

How is Target-Based Grading Different from Traditional Grading?

Target-Based Grading focuses on what a student has actually learned. Other factors such as homework completion, participation, and attendance do not count towards the student’s grade. Instead, grades are based on a student’s most recent level of performance on assessments, which are designed to show a student’s proficiency level.

Thus, a student who may have struggled at the introduction of the new classroom material will work to develop the skill and may be able to demonstrate proficiency by the time he/she takes the assessment at the end of a grading period.  If proficiency is not reached, the student will be given more support to learn the skill and have an opportunity to retest.

In a traditional grading system, a student’s performance for an entire quarter is averaged together. Early homework and quiz scores (that may have been low) are averaged into more recent scores, resulting in a grade that does not accurately reflect the student’s current level of performance.

Why is Norfolk Public Schools changing its grading system?

  1. Historically, grading at Norfolk High School has included inconsistent practices.  (* High scores at NHS have not correlated with high scores on the ACT.)
  2. Traditional Grading is not an accurate reflection of student learning.
  3. Research indicates that Target-Based Grading leads to higher levels of student achievement.

Strategic Planning Goal

During the 2017-2018 school year, a committee of teachers, parents, students, administrators and community members crafted a goal that indicated all NPS teachers in grades preK-12 would implement and use Target-Based Grading by Fall of 2021.  However, we realize that this goal was overly ambitious and are in the process of developing a slower implementation timeline. That revised timeline will be shared in the near future.


We are piloting Target-Based Grading utilizing a 3 point proficiency scale, where 3 = Proficient, 2 = Approaching, and 1 = Needs Support in the following courses:

  • Elementary: 4th Grade English/Language Arts
  • Middle School: 5th & 6th Grade Math and 6th Grade Science
  • Junior High:  8th Grade Math
  • Senior High:  Algebra, Geometry, Statistics and Government

Coming in the Future:

Based upon parent feedback, we will be adding a 4th ADVANCED level to this scale. 

We will also publish a conversion chart, which will be used to convert a student’s proficiency score into a 4.0 Grade Point Average.  This conversion chart will be reviewed at upcoming staff, parent, and School Board meetings — with implementation beginning in August 2020.

The Grade Point Average will be included on students’ high school transcripts for use by colleges and scholarship committees.

 For More Information:

  • Contact your child’s principal
  • Learn more on our website at
  • Call Mrs. Beth Nelson, NPS Director of Teaching and Learning, at 402-644-2500