Growth Mindset Reports

Standards-Based Grading, Student Mindset


Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to better improve my grading system and overall classroom environment. I want to continue to figure out how to better promote growth mindset (thanks Jo Boaler), eliminate classroom status (thanks Ilana Horn), and have students take ownership in learning.

Last year, I implemented Standards-Based Grading for the first time and saw a big increase in student motivation and success. However, I realized that there were still a lot of issues with status and competition whenever I handed back assessments. In addition, students were more focused on their grade instead of improvement and pursuing learning.

This year, I decided to counter these issues by no longer writing grades on any assignments or assessments (thanks Twitter). My thought was that if students couldn’t see a grade, then they would be less likely to compare themselves with other students, and they could focus more on improvement instead of grades. This tweak has led to better results than last year. Now, when I give back assessments, students aren’t comparing grades and establishing status. Also, they aren’t reinforcing fixed mindsets by seeing labels (grades) that represent current progress. Both of these are wins.


One issue that has risen with the new strategy is a somewhat lack of direction for student improvement. Some students have mentioned that they want to see a grade in order to know how they are doing with concepts. However, I believe this desire can be satisfied without attaching grades to assignments.

Possible Solution:

I decided to create a “Growth Mindset Report” in order to provide feedback for student progress. The idea was to turn a traditional progress report into a document that encourages continued pursuit of learning. Also, instead of putting traditional grades on the report, I wanted to use growth mindset language. The brainstorming process went like this:

Maybe progress should just be shown as red, yellow, or green?

Wait…kids know what those mean and will compare with others.

Maybe I’ll put words like, emerging, proficient, or advanced?

Hmm…still sounds like a reinforcing label.

I was stuck because even if number or letter grades aren’t attached, students can still figure out the hierarchy of words used.

But what if I’m not the one creating the labels? What if students self-reflect? If they choose their own rating, then maybe the focus will be more about the path to improvement instead of the evaluation of current standing.

Insert a Google form.

Form Pic

2 big hat-tips:

  • I completely stole the form idea from a Google session led by Amy Mayer. She presented an original form created by Mike Jaber for individualized technology plans for teachers. Check it out.
  • I stole the ratings, “Starting Out, Getting There, Got it…” from a tweet by Nico Rowinsky. Really like these phrases for promoting growth.

Once the students fill out the form, I’ll use autoCrat to create individual student reports based on the data received. Here is a sample report.

GM Report

New Website:

On the Growth Mindset Report, I provided links to pages from a new website I made for students to get extra practice. Here is an example page:

wmh stu pic

My goal for the site is to provide students with a place to get extra practice for any concept we learn in class. I created reviews for the conceptual, PBL activities we do, Desmos demonstrations, and practice problems. I’d really like to get suggestions for improvement on how to make this site better.

Potential Hurdle:

During Amy’s Google session, Adam Hamilton brought up a good point. How do students know how to self-reflect? Do they know what they need to work on? I’m not sure if I can answer that at the moment. I hope that students have a solid awareness of how they are progressing, but it’s hard to know sometimes. I’d also like to get feedback about how this issue can be addressed.

What other hurdles do you see? How can this be improved to further promote growth mindset and eliminate classroom status? Any comments are helpful.

Featured Comment:

Matthew Switzer provided some awesome feedback:

My brain wants to add another column/question to the report/Google Form that asks students to share a link to something THEY’VE created that demonstrates their learning (i.e., student makes a youtube video showing they know the different parts of slope-intercept and how it works with other models they designed). Having your help-site in a column alongside the student inputted site may help with self-assessment.

8 thoughts on “Growth Mindset Reports

  1. Dane,
    Thanks for sharing your incredible thoughts here. I stumbled on your blog via #GTAATX- as a fellow GCT (#gtachi ’13), I try to follow other GCT’s to continue my personal learning.
    The idea of a self-assessed, growth mindset form, shared via autocrat, is brilliant. Having students work through this process, and communicate it to their parents, lends itself to all sort of goal-setting and learning target logs.
    My brain wants to add another column/question to the report/Google Form that asks students to share a link to something THEY’VE created that demonstrates their learning (i.e., student makes a youtube video showing they know the different parts of slope-intercept and how it works with other models they designed). Having your help-site in a column alongside the student inputted site may help with self-assessment. Really, the possibilities are endless here and I am getting excited just thinking it about it!
    Again, thanks for allowing me the space here to bounce some ideas off you- have a great day!

    1. Matthew,

      Thanks for the kind words! I’m very thankful to be a part of the team, and it’s great to hear from a fellow GCT!

      This is awesome feedback! Thanks for sharing. I really like your idea about having students share a link to their work. Perfect continuation to the pursuing learning theme. I’ll add that in there. Let me know if you think of something else!

      Looking forward to the collaboration.

  2. How often do you give these reports? You have four topics covered here…do you just give them randomly?
    Also, did you have a problem with parents asking what the students’ grades were? I feel like parents are just as bad as the students sometimes with having a number or a letter grade, sometimes even worse. What did you do in that situation?

    1. I just started giving out these reports during our 3rd grading period this school year. I’m planning to give one out midway through each grading period. At my school, that happens to be 3 weeks in. I give the reports based on my standards-based grading concept checklists (see this link:

      I haven’t had any parents ask for grades yet, but I know it would be a big issue in other environments. In order to prepare for that, I have a spreadsheet ready to go at all times with the students’ grades. I tell the kids that if they really want to know their grade, then they can stay after class for a minute and see it. This still helps with classroom status because I can tell a student one-on-one without other kids around.

      I would also start the year by telling parents about the grading system and how it benefits the students. I recently read a great article that has some resources that could be helpful to share ( I think parents and students are more likely to be on board when they hear the benefits to student mindset and performance.

  3. Hi Dane,

    I stumbled across your blog post whilst looking into how to develop Growth Mindset within the classroom. I’m a trainee teacher and I’d be really interested to hear how your idea has developed further since posting this blog. Have you made any changes? Are you still seeing an improvement in results? Is there anything that didn’t go as well as you’d hoped?

    Also, going back to Carly’s comment, Have you had any feedback from parents at all? If so, what has it been?

    Thank you so much for sharing your ideas, I have found them really interesting 🙂

    1. Hey Marcus,

      Thanks for checking out the blog! I actually wrote a newer post about this topic. Click here to read it. It may answer some of your questions.

      If I’m being honest, I’m kind of stuck right now with promoting Growth Mindset. Overall, I definitely believe my students are much more motivated and persevere more than they were before I started trying to promote this. However, there are still so many who aren’t believing in themselves and persevering the way I’d like to see. I think one of my biggest struggles is continuing the momentum throughout the year. At the beginning of the school year, the kids are very motivated and start to buy into Growth Mindset. However, it trails off during the year, especially when we hit units that are more of a grind. Finding ways to continue to reinforce the idea (especially during tough times) is still a challenge for me.

      One thing that hasn’t gone as well as I hoped is the Gamified Google Sheets (see this post). My students haven’t really looked at it much, and the resources I’ve provided for outside help haven’t been utilized very often. Part of it is probably due to lack of skill and expertise on my part.

      As for parent feedback, I had a little at the beginning of the year when I sent an email to all the parents explaining my grading system. Some parents were really excited, but there were a few concerns. However, once I was able to explain more (and meet in person), the concerns were eased. I think once they saw that the system leads to improvement and usually better grades (thanks to the forgiving nature of retakes), then they bought in.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  4. Hi Dane,

    Thanks for the info! I’m reading up on all your SBG stuff and trying to get a fuller understanding of how all your stuff fits together.
    I understand that you grade 70% Quizzes and 30% else. And these Quizzes tell you what students understand for each general topic in which they get scores between 5-10. So I got a number of questions for you!
    1. How do students get that score of 10 or mastery? Do they have to get 9.5 two times in a row? Or does the optional challenge problem fulfill that? How about when students turn in some video to show their understanding? Would that count for mastery?
    2. What if over time (let’s say a month later), you assess the same topic and find that the students drop in their understanding. Would you lower their score for that topic?
    3. For the Personal Growth Reports, do you still use phrases like, “starting out”? Or do you give numerical values? Or do you use a different system entirely like the leveling up google spreadsheet system (forgot what it’s called, but I know Jon Orr used it).
    4. How do your DOK problems factor into student grades? If students completed a level 4 problem, would that be the same thing as earning a 10 on a quiz for that topic?
    5. Let’s say for a quiz you assessed topics slope and system of equations. If a student wanted to take a retake, would they take the exact same quiz with mixed numbers?

    Thanks for taking the time to answer, and thanks for the website! You have seriously brought so much clarity 🙂

    1. Hey Nathan,

      Thank you for the kind words! I really appreciate it and am happy to answer the questions!

      1. Students get a 10 either by making a 9.5 twice (basically perfect quiz twice in a row) or they can complete the optional challenge on the first quiz attempt. I try to make the challenge hard enough to where it proves that they have a deep enough understanding to warrant a 10 the first time around. Also, I am open to giving a 10 to a student who turns in a video or some other creative piece as long as they are able to walk me through it in person and explain their thinking. I want to make sure they were the ones who actually made it. So far though, no student has decided to make a video or anything.

      2. This does happen, but I honor their highest score even if they perform worse the 2nd (or any other attempt) time around. Although it’s not ideal to see kids drop, my opinion is that it’s better to honor the score and just keep an eye on them than to drop the score. I feel like it keeps the system’s integrity because my goal is to show them that mistakes are helpful and perseverance is always the best option. If I lower their score, it muddies that message a bit (even if that’s not my intention). Exceptions could be made for kids who may have cheated or are just not trying because they are satisfied with their original score. It may be helpful to have one-on-one conversations with these exceptions and try to build truthful relationships with them.

      3. I don’t give the personal reports that often (as the year gets crazy they’re easy to forget about unfortunately), but when I do, I prefer to use the “starting out” and other terms in order to hopefully show the kids that I’m not concerned with grades but instead their progress. I definitely like not giving numerical values as much as possible.

      4. DOK can definitely influence grades. For the optional challenges, I try to find higher DOK problems in order to see how deep their understanding is. If a student successfully completes a DOK 4 problem, I’m for sure happy to give them a 10. That would show great progress in my view. Overall, when creating quizzes, the questions usually end up not being super high DOK because I like questions that are easy enough for any student to attempt. This allows for at least a partial work/thought process sample for pretty much any kid in class and therefore gives me something to work with when preparing for future instruction or tutoring.

      5. A lot of the time, the retakes are pretty much the same quiz with mixed up numbers. If a student comes in for a retake outside of class, I’ll often just make up a problem and write it on the board for them to solve in front of me. My goal is to get the best understanding of their thinking that I can, so I like to have them work a problem and then explain it back to me.

      Hope that helps! Feel free to ask more at anytime. Thanks again for the encouragement!

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