Teachers’ grades provide feedback to students. Grading practices vary across teachers and classrooms. One grading practice that is becoming increasingly popular with teachers is using standards-based gradebooks. Another grading practice calls for using a traditional gradebook. Both have their uses, but you must know what each type entails!

What is Standards-Based Grading?

Standards-based grading (SBG) is a process that focuses on collecting evidence of student learning and assessing students based on that evidence. Standards determine what students should know, understand, and do at different grade levels. The assessment of this information includes qualitative assessments; it does not rely on scores alone. Another important characteristic of standards-based grading is that students and parents get frequent feedback on their progress towards meeting the standards. Therefore, teachers using a standards-based grading gradebook must consider how they will grade students’ work and provide feedback on learning so that student achievement can be determined.

What is Traditional Grading?

The traditional grading method uses letter grades or numbers to indicate student achievement. This grading system assigns a grade to students based on their percentage of correct answers on assessments. This grading method is often done without indicating what standard or criteria were used to arrive at the grade. Teachers using this system do not collect evidence and generally only provide qualitative feedback when students ask for an explanation.

The Importance of Custom Grading Features in an Online Gradebook Software

Now that you know what each type of grading method is, it is time to look at some reasons why it is important to use custom grading features within an online gradebook software!

#1: Grading and Feedback

Standard-based grading requires that the classroom teacher provide frequent, ongoing feedback to students on their progress towards meeting standards. This is true whether you use a traditional gradebook or an SBG system. The use of custom grading features within an online gradebook software provides teachers with immediate access to student data such as assessment scores and percentages correct. This data can be used to determine student progress towards meeting standards.

#2: Assessing Working Toward Standards

Another important reason for using custom grading features within an online gradebook software is the ability to provide teachers with ways to assess working toward standards. These tools can help determine student readiness by giving students opportunities to demonstrate what they know and providing the teacher with examples of specific works, completed samples of actual writing, and presentations that indicate knowledge of the standards.

#3: Differentiating Instruction

The use of custom grading features within an online gradebook software allows teachers to differentiate instruction according to the needs of individual students. For example, you can give certain students opportunities to demonstrate what they know while giving other students opportunities for re-teaching and revision if necessary. The point being that using the same rubric for all students doesn’t allow for much differentiation. But, with custom grading features within an online gradebook software, teachers can create different rubrics based on the individual needs of students.

#4: Tracking Student Progress

You can use custom grading features in an online gradebook software to track student’s progress towards mastering specific skills and standards. This information can help teachers decide which standards need more reinforcement and which students need extra support. In addition, your lesson plan and gradebook can be seen in one place, which can help you track your student’s progress and completed assignments!

Some of the best online gradebook software solutions on the market today offer a wide range of custom grading features that make it easy for teachers to use SBG or traditional grading in their classrooms. These tools make it possible for teachers to assess student’s progress towards meeting standards, assess working towards standards, and differentiate instruction based on the individual needs of students.

Which One Should You Use?

Choosing the best simple online gradebook software for your classroom can be confusing. To make things easier on yourself, you should first ask yourself, “What types of assessments will my students take, and how do I want them to show what they know on those assessments?” If your students are taking digital quizzes and tests with no partial credit options, then you will want to use a traditional gradebook. If, on the other hand, you plan to assess students more frequently on smaller tasks such as weekly tests and essays, then an SBG will work best for you.

It is essential to look at what you and your students need. It is also important to consider what your school’s regulations are when it comes to what gradebooks can be used. If your school is flexible, you can try out different gradebook methods until you find what works best with your teaching style.

Also, keep in mind that if you plan to use digital assessments in your classroom, it may be a good idea to choose an online gradebook software that offers a variety of custom grading features. Be sure to ask any potential software providers how they provide teachers with tools to differentiate instruction according to the individual needs of students!


There are many benefits to using either an online gradebook software that offers custom grading features or a traditional gradebook. Whichever you choose, make sure you understand what types of assessments you will give in your classroom and what level of differentiation you will need for those assessments. Remember that grading is not something teachers should obsess about, nor is there one perfect way to grade, but you should find a system that makes grading a less cumbersome process!

SchoolCues is an all-in-one school management system for small schools with limited budgets and resources. Our solutions include admissions and enrollment, online payments, student information system, gradebook, communications, parent engagement, donations and fundraising, alumni management, and more. Schedule a demo with us today.