By Patrick McGing
I am not sure when I first came across Standard Based Grading (SBG) or heard about the idea/theory of it but at this point in my educational career (this is my 5th year teaching) I have fully bought into the idea behind it. I have drunk the kool-aid and continue to drink it. Therefore, I am going to look at my own understanding of SBG and what conflicts and challenges I currently have.
A specific question has come up multiple times now that has solidified my belief in SBG, “If you have a B in the class, can you tell me what you have learned in that class?” The majority of students cannot explain what they have learned in that course. Maybe they list a random activity that was done but that just means that they completed the activity; did they actually retain any information? Maybe? Yes? Probably something, but what? The same students will not list a specific skill they have gained.
|Student reflecting on the standards covered in a project|
Student’s hand-drawn circuit of a display showing her date of birth
These questions make me cringe. In my – so far short trial of SBG – I have found a few very positive things and still have many questions and challenges.
- Students understand the purpose of activities when tied to a specific standard or skill
- Students strive to earn a 4/4 on each standard – demonstrating mastery of that standard
- Students can be reassessed in many different ways – written questions, verbal discussion/explanation, or additional practice
- Quizzes are very focused on standards and do not include “filler”
- Students actually review quizzes rather than throwing them out
- Students do not play the points game to get an “A”
- It is much more difficult to demonstrate “A” or mastery of a standard
- Students can list standards and skills they have mastered and learned
- Explaining procedures to students
- Providing consistent feedback to students
- Developing reassessments that show growth of student’s understanding
- How many standards?
- Scale: 1 – 4 or 2 – 4? Or something different
- How to track students through the process
- How to translate SBG into a typical A – F gradebook
- Can students still list or explain a standard 3 weeks from now?
- Better communication with parents
- Alignment of all standards with:
- Rubrics developed for all standards
- Does a rubric for each standard even need to be made? Does a generic work?