Standards-Based Grading Resources

This page will become a reference and storage point for all of the standards-based grading curriculum resources I have created or worked with over the last several years. I hope these provide useful resources for other teachers who may be looking to transition to a standards-based system or find themselves trying to survive a system that has been suddenly implemented. I will probably add new sections or sub-pages over time.

Historical Thinking Standards & Resources

Balancing content and skill standards is a recurring task of social studies curriculum. Most state standards clearly outline content standards, but do not always clearly separate the skill standards that students will be gaining proficiency with. In my experience, content standards are difficult to assess with proficiency scales since they are often based in knowledge acquisition and do not spiral throughout a course. I have seen systems where content is assessed as part of a content dedicated measurement topic, which then averages with skill-based standards and measurement topics. Ultimately, content standards are very well developed and are exhaustive across most state curriculum. What is often lacking is a clear vision for teaching and assessing skills through which students also show understanding of content.

National Center for History in Schools – Website – These are frequently references in publications and are the skills embedded in the World History for Us All curriculum.

American Historical Association – Website – These match and are associated with the NCHS standards cited above.

C3 Framework for Social Studies – WebsiteWeb linked PDF

AP History courses have skills embedded in their CEDs that offer a good framework for standards-based grading.

Australian History Curriculum – Website – Specifically establishes strands for both content and core historical thinking skills. I particularly like the inclusion of empathy in this curriculum.

OER Project – Website – Great teaching resources, including stuff that works for standards-based grading. Most of their skill expectations are pulled from college board language.

Proficiency Scales

Developing proficiency scales should be an early task for moving to standards-based grading or deciding to explicitly assess historical thinking skills. Teachers often struggle to apply historical thinking to their curriculum because many state standards do not clearly unpack these skills or scaffold what they look like across grades. Since students arrive to class at different cognitive abilities, it is difficult to reach every students where they are at without a clear understanding of the building blocks to proficiency.

NCHS Proficiency Scales & Rubrics

NCHS 1.6 Continuity & Change over Time

NCHS 2.2 Sourcing Evidence

  • Proficiency Scale
  • Student-Friendly Rubric

NCHS 2.4 Contextualization

  • Proficiency Scale
  • Student-Friendly Rubric

NCHS 2.5 Using Maps

  • Proficiency Scale
  • Student-Friendly Rubric

NCHS 3.1 Historical Comparison

  • Proficiency Scale
  • Student-Friendly Rubric

NCHS 3.2 Multiple Perspectives

NCHS 3.3 Multiple Causation

NCHS 3.9 Historiography

NCHS 4.6 Argumentation

C3 Proficiency Scales

Dimension 1

Standard 5: Developing Questions & Planning Inquiries

Dimension 2: History

Contextualization (Standards 1, 3)

Continuity & Change over Time (Standards 2-3)

Historical Perspectives (Standards 4-5)

Historiography (Standards 6-8)

Historical Sources (Standards 9-10)

Historical Inquiry (Standards 11-13)

Causation (Standards 14-15)

Argumentation (Standard 16)

History in Multiple Media (Standard 17)

Dimension 2: Geography

Standard 3: Geographic Data, Spatial Patterns & Mapping

Standard 4: Interactions of Human and Physical Systems

Standard 5: Political & Economic Impacts on Geography

Standard 10: Environmental/Cultural Change & Trade

Standard 11: Globalization, Conflict, and Compromise

Vertical Alignment Examples

These examples are based on language from the NCHS standards. The numbers attached to each standard were used for internal coding and generally reference which section of the NCHS curriculum they come from. Ultimately, having the sense of continuity and growth across a curriculum is more important that quibbling over minor details of what should be in which grade. The process helps teachers see the progression of the skills, drives purposeful scaffolds, and clarifies assessment.


Multiple Causation

Continuity & Change over Time

Historical Comparison

Using Maps

Scope & Sequence Examples

These scope and sequences are for fairly usual survey history courses and were based around the NCHS skill and content standards. I hope to have the opportunity to design and teach standards-based courses in the future that are a bit more inter-disciplinary. The C3 Framework offers and advantage in this regard.

US History: Thematic

World History I

World History II

Asian Studies

Policies, Procedures, Process Grades, etc.