In standards-based grading, teachers communicate goals of learning rather than tasks. In other words, learning is communicated in relation to the course outcomes rather than the activities (homework, quiz, project, essay, etc.) demonstrating the learning outcomes.
For many years in education, this has been the default means of communication to students and parents:
However, 14 out of 16 points does not tell John or his parents the areas in which he has successfully learned the course outcomes and the areas in which John still needs to improve.
In standards-based grading, the BIG shift is seeing learning outcomes (often called “standards” in K-12 schools) reported in grade books and/or report cards.
In an upcoming post, I will share the next BIG shift of standards-based grading: a mastery learning mindset.