Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Committee Chair

Danny Stedman


Standards-based grading is still in its infancy within North Carolina. At this time, only 12 of the 115 school districts have incorporated the standards-based form of grading into their system. As school districts across North Carolina look to implement different forms of grading to assess student learning, it will be important to look at the effectiveness of the professional development that accompanies the shift. The research questions that guided this work center around the support needed by teachers during the transition period and the impact of the professional development on their understanding of how to successfully implement standards-based grading. The study looked to analyze data taken from the 2017-2018 school year. The study was conducted in a rural school district within the state of North Carolina where standards-based grading has been implemented within the elementary schools. It looked to utilize these data to draw on teacher feelings and beliefs regarding the professional development. The study also looked to determine the effectiveness of the professional development and what future courses of action can be taken to strengthen future practices. Through the use of focus groups conducted with district principals and teachers and an interview with the district’s director of elementary curriculum and instruction, an understanding was gained about the views and opinions of the participants. Survey data were also collected in an effort to gain further insight among a wider population of fourth-grade teachers within the district. The researcher looked for emergent themes that began to form based on the responses of the participants. Central themes that emerged from the research included the importance of utilizing Professional Learning Communities and site-based staff within the school to support teachers in the practical application of standards-based grading. In addition, findings reflected that participants in the study felt the need for further support in working with parents. Participants also identified the importance of providing support through practical applications including rubrics and scoring practices. Positive shifts in formative assessment were another theme coinciding with the shift towards-standards based grading. A solid understanding of the different standards was a final theme that surfaced during the course of the research. These themes that developed will be offered as a means of providing information and support for future districts when planning and introducing the standards-based form of grading within their systems. Based upon the findings, recommendations for the district include the development of a professional development model to support the future implementation of standards-based grading. Recommendations also include the need for ongoing differentiated professional development to support teachers and their individual needs. It will be valuable to look at future research and studies into the implementation efforts of other districts that are experiencing success.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.