Education Doctorate

Number of Pages


Year Approved


First Advisor

Reimer, Tracy

Second Reader

Cynthia Hansen, Marta Shaw


The ultimate goal of K-12 education is to prepare learners to be life-, career-, and college-ready. Elementary schools develop the foundational skills necessary for students to be successful in secondary education and beyond. The implementation of standards-based grading can significantly contribute to a transparent grading system that identifies and communicates what students know and are able to do. This qualitative study examined rural Minnesota elementary leaders’ perceptions of effective professional development practices specific to the implementation of standards-based grading. Snowball sampling was employed to gain districts’ names using standards-based report cards. Interviews were conducted utilizing a videoconferencing tool and eleven semi-structured questions were asked of eight interviewees. Participants identified job-embedded professional development practices that informed educators’ beliefs and practices, as well as overcame challenges. Themes that occurred in all eight interviews included the intentional alignment of job-embedded professional development practices shifted educators’ beliefs, practices, and assisted in overcoming challenges, influential leadership positions were crucial in implementation and sustainability, communicating the WHY with supporting evidence was necessary for all stakeholders, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) served as the main framework to complete ongoing work, teacher ownership was fostered through collaboration in PLCs, and standards-based grading was a planning initiative rather than a cost initiative. This study suggests further research is needed to learn teachers’, parents’, and students’ perceptions of effective practices for the implementation of standards-based grading.Keywords: standards-based grading, professional development, Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)

Degree Name

Education Doctorate

Document Type

Doctoral dissertation