Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)


Graduate Education

First Advisor

Ed Starkenburg


Teachers in all sorts of educational settings have a common difficulty: accurately reporting what their students know, understand, and are able to do. Reporting the measurement of these assessments has traditionally been done through the assignment of letter grades. There is a fairly comprehensive and growing body of literature indicating the weakness of traditional letter grades for authentically assessing student understanding. This study examines an alternative to traditional grading practices. After reviewing relevant literature, I designed a standards-based assessment and evaluation system and put it into place in my 8th grade science classroom at a mid-sized Christian school in northwestern Iowa for the first 9-week quarter of the 2007-2008 academic year. I used a mixed-methods design for my study, including case study and survey elements. After the first quarter was completed, I surveyed participating 8th grade science students and their parents for their response to the newly implemented alternative assessment system. The survey results were mixed, likely attributable to the significant cultural shift required of students, parents, and even teachers, to accept an alternative to traditional letter grades for assessing student understanding. Both the student participants and their parents, however, indicated that online progress reports accurately described students’ achievement in science. The overall result encourages me to continue the implementation of a standards-based assessment and evaluation system in my science classroom.


Action Research Report Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Education