Proficiency-Based Grading

In District 100, we believe student achievement occurs through clearly defined standards and authentic learning opportunities. The district strives to provide accurate, meaningful and timely feedback to both students and parents throughout the learning process.

Proficiency-based grading communicates how students perform on a set of clearly defined learning targets called standards. The purpose of proficiency-based grading is to identify what a student knows, or is able to do, in relation to those learning targets – as opposed to simply averaging grades/scores over the course of the grading period, which can mask what a student has learned or not learned.

The Proficiency-Based Movement

Proficiency-Based Learning (sometimes called Mastery-Based or Competency-Based) has been part of the district's efforts since 2011 and was formally adopted as a strategy in our Strategic Plan in 2017. We used the Nellie Mae Education Foundation's model to design our philosophy around a new way of school we call Student-Centered Learning.

The National Movement

Belvidere is not the first school to move in the direction of competency-based education. But we are considered a national leader. We've been asked to present our work in California, Florida, Texas, and Wisconsin on our work. We've had visitors from all of the country, and even from schools from other continents!

We are one of 25 school district's nationally to be certified in Marzano's High Reliability School framework, a research-based pathway to Competency Education.

US Adoption, 2018 (iNACOL, 2018)

The Illinois Movement

Belvidere is not the only school in the region moving to proficiency-based learning environment.

All of our schools were accepted to be part of the Illinois State Board of Education's Competency-Pilot program.

A list of the other high schools shifting to a competency/proficiency program in the state are listed here:

  • Huntley Community School District 158
  • Adlai Stevenson High School District 125
  • Community Unit School District 300
  • Ridgewood Community High School District 234
  • Maine Township High School District 207
  • Bradley-Bourbonnais Community High School District 307

District 100 Implementation Timeline

2011-2012 School Year

  • Curriculum teams begin to write 1- 4 scales for priority standards. Scales are planned to become the primary communication piece for stakeholders to understand learning instead of As, Bc, & Cs. Scales become the primary curriculum documents for courses and grades moving forward. Curriculum and scale revisions and improvements happen annually moving forward.

2015-2016 School Year

  • The district adopts the High Reliability Schools Framework (HRS) from Marzano Research. The HRS Framework is a guide for school improvement teams to work towards a proficiency-based learning environment. Marzano Research becomes a professional development provider for the district.
  • South Middle School becomes the first school to certify as an HRS Level 1 school.

2016 - 2017 School Year

  • Board Approved Strategic Plan included mastery of skills and standards as well as competency-based learning environment as priorities.
  • The district becomes members of the Institute for Personalized Learning (IPL) to support school and district efforts toward proficiency-based learning practices. IPL becomes a professional development provider for the district.

2017 - 2018 School Year

  • Year 1 of Elementary, Middle and High School Pilot of Proficiency Based Grading with approximately 75 teachers.
  • State Superintendent Tony Smith visits the district to award acceptance into Illinois' Competency-Based High School program.
  • Instructional Coaches transition to school-specific roles to provide teachers daily professional development, group and individual coaching, and onboarding support as schools transition to proficiency-based learning practices.

2018-2019 School Year

  • Rollout of Elementary Proficiency Based Report Cards
  • Year 2 of Middle and High School Pilot of Proficiency Based Grading with approximately 50 teachers.

2019-2020 School Year

  • Rollout of Middle School Proficiency Based Report Cards
  • Year 3 of High School Pilot of Proficiency Based Grading with approximately 90 teachers.

Our Research Base & Partners