What does a grade really say about a student?
  • What does an 83% as a grade really mean? Does it mean a student understands 83% of the course content? Did a student get 83% of the points? Did they do really well on some tests, but not on others so their average lowered their grade to 83%?

Standards-Based Grading Transforms Grades
  • Standards-based grading (SBG) transforms grades from arbitrary points and percents to communication about how students demonstrate mastery of standards. SBG gradebooks are not filled with homework, quizzes, tests, etc. Rather they consist of performance evaluations on learning standards.
  • Standards-based grades have many advantages:
    • Smarter Grades = Meaningful
    • Students pinpoint holes in their learning = Valuable feedback
    • Students are able to fill those holes since they know what they are (remediation)
    • Assessments become opportunities rather than dreadful events
    • Focus on growth and improvement
  • However, SBG is still a novel concept and not fully understood by all stakeholders.

Not All Teachers Understand SBG, So What Chance do Parents and Students Have?
  • What a substantial concept “standards-based grading” is. More and more teachers everyday are understanding the basics behind the term, but many times, understanding of SBG falls flat for students and parents. Rather than calling it “standards-based grading” or some other education-termed equivalent, why not call it what it truly is: Fair Grading

  • Sometimes you never know when some insight on your teaching practice will arrive. I came face-to-face with my own ideas on grading from a student that I tutor. The student’s teacher (from a different school district than mine) implements standards-based grading in their math class and was, according to the student, the reason that student was doing so poorly in the class.

  • Student: “The teacher grades this weird way that makes all of our grades lower.”
  • Me (intrigued): “What do you mean? How is it weird?”
  • Student: “It’s this thing called standards-based grading. It’s causing half of the class to fail.”

  • The student proceeds to explain what to me sounded like some solid grading practices that involved students being accountable for what they are learning. The student, who was used to doing well in math, found himself struggling more in this class because “homework and other work we [students] do is not counted”.

  • Student: “Shouldn’t our homework and how hard we try count for something?”

  • Clearly, the student, to fault of their own, does not fully understand what a grade is supposed to mean (representation of learning). This student seemed more occupied about getting a good grade by any means possible rather than getting a good grade by demonstrating mastery of particular standards.

A Rose By Any Other Name...
  • I feel as though giving an assessment philosophy the name of “standards-based grading” does not help with the confusion behind it. It is almost as if giving a method of grading a name creates something to complain about. Students can now complain about the grading method rather than specific parts of it. These complaints are mainly symptoms of attacking something that is not really understood.
  • Furthermore, there are too many pages that are anti-SBG. With many students and parents Googling new teaching styles or fads, it might not be the best idea to use a term that is so misunderstood.

Solution (maybe)
  • Clearly, students and parents need to understand what SBG is all about. This means it needs to be explained to them numerous times in numerous ways. I introduce how I grade to students on the first day and to parents through videos, emails, and open house. When I introduce how I grade to my students and parents, I do not even give it a name. I start by explaining how traditional grading is unfair and discuss how it could be more fair through how I grade. This post isn’t meant to explain how traditional grading is unfair, but since you asked, the main reasons are:
  1. averaging
  2. not giving multiple opportunities to demonstrate mastery of a concept
  3. arbitrary teacher-paced assessments without remediation options
  4. lack of focus on growth

  • SBG helps level the fairness of grading by focusing on growth, what students have demonstrated, and multiple opportunities for demonstration of mastery. If students truly understood the point of SBG and it was implemented correctly by their teacher(s), they would not have much (or anything) to complain about. After all, standards-based grading is fair grading and should be named accordingly.
Designed By Blogger Templates | Templatelib & Distributed By Blogspot Templates