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Standards Based Grading - FAQ

 

Gr. 6 & 7  Standards-Based Grading  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
 
What is standards-based grading?
 

In a standard-based grading system teachers report what students know and are able to do in relation to the Common Core, State, and District standards.  The system includes:

  • Improved student achievement with required learning outcomes in all content areas
  • Mastery of defined learning outcomes instead of the accumulation of points
  • Reporting of student achievement toward meeting learning outcomes at a given time by analyzing recent trend information based on various forms of evidence
  • Record-keeping system that provides teachers with information that allows them to adjust learning practices to meet the needs of students
  • System that encourages student reflection and responsibility

 

 

 

 

What are the purposes of standards-based grading?
 
The purpose of standards-based grading is to raise student achievement by clearly communicating students’ progress towards learning outcomes in a timely, accurate, fair and specific manner.  SBG accurately communicate student achievement to students, parents, and educators.
 
 
How is standards-based grading different?
 
The individual student’s grade more accurately represents the progress toward proficiency of standards than traditional grading does. Subject areas are subdivided into big ideas Related to standards and their respective learning outcomes that students need to learn or master.  Each target is assessed. Scores from activities that are provided solely for practice will not be included in the final assessment of the learning outcomes.  The influence of positive and consistent work habits on student learning is reported separately from the academics (through the CREEK citizenship standards).
 
 
What are the advantages of standards-based grading?
 
Learning outcomes are clearly articulated to the students throughout instruction.  Parents and students can see which learning outcomes students have mastered and which ones need reteaching or relearning. SBG can change the complexion of at-home conversations between the student and the parent/guardian from “Why didn't you finish your homework?” “ Did you make up that quiz you missed?”  and “ Have you finished your project?”  to “Tell me your understanding of the standard,” “ How does your teacher connect your in-class work to the unit’s objectives?”  or “What more do you need to do to achieve this benchmark?”  Some students struggle at the beginning of units, fail assessments and give up;  with SBG, the door remains open to achieving standards.
 
 
What are the disadvantages of standards-based grading?
 
Of all aspects of our education system, none seems more impervious or resistant to change than grading and reporting.  Changing long-held traditions is a difficult and lengthy process.
 
 
Why aren’t grades just averaged?
 
Because the purpose of standards-based grading is to report what students know and are able to do, averaging does not represent an accurate picture of where a student is in his learning.  A student who struggles in a class at the beginning of a grading period and receives poor grades, but who keeps working and by the end of the grading and clearly demonstrate competence in the subject, should receive a grade that reflects that competence.  Averaging is a fixture of most grading systems, but averages does not always represent the data accurately.   Consider two students,  Stuart and Maria.  Stuart earned the following scores:  85, 85, 85, 85, 85, 85, 85, 85, and 85.  The overall average is not difficult to calculate, and Stuart's grade is posted as a (B).  Maria struggles in math and turns in these performance marks:  50, 60, 65, 70, 80, 85, 90, 90, and 90.  Maria scores average a  little over (75%) which would result in a (C) on her report card, but it is obvious that Maria now understands the math even though she struggled in the beginning.
 
 
So is a (3) like an (A), a (2) like a (C) and so on?
 
Because the purpose of standards-based grading is to report what students know and are able to do, averaging does not represent an accurate picture of where a student is in his learning.  A student who struggles in a class at the beginning of a grading period and receives poor grades, but who keeps working and by the end of the grading and clearly demonstrate competence in the subject, should receive a grade that reflects that competence.  Averaging is a fixture of most grading systems, but averages does not always represent the data accurately.   Consider two students,  Stuart and Maria.  Stuart earned the following scores:  85, 85, 85, 85, 85, 85, 85, 85, and 85.  The overall average is not difficult to calculate, and Stuart's grade is posted as a (B).  Maria struggles in math and turns in these performance marks:  50, 60, 65, 70, 80, 85, 90, 90, and 90.  Maria scores average a  little over (75%) which would result in a (C) on her report card, but it is obvious that Maria now understands the math even though she struggled in the beginning.
 
 
What about homework?  I’ve heard it doesn’t count in standards-based grading. How do I make sure my student understands the importance of homework if it isn’t part of the final grade?
 
Homework is practice. Therefore let's rethink the question to be, “Does practice count?”  to use a sports analogy,  knitting analogy,  painting analogy,  accounting analogy,  or pretty much any other analogy you can think of . . .  Practice is extremely important and valuable as It prepares you to perform.  Homework assignments need to be aligned to the standards in order for students to utilize  homework as practice your profession performance.  Students should be able to articulate how a homework assignment help them practice toward performance at a (3)  with any given standard.  Teachers are NOT to use homework completion as an indicator of student proficiency on a standard and instead should use student assessments, projects, and observations from class to determine proficiency.  However, teachers should use homework completion as an indicator of a student's progress toward effective work habits embedded in CREEK Citizenship standards.  Progress with listed CREEK standards will be reported each quarter.
 
 
How are we going to teach our kids that in the real world or on tests such as the M-STEP that they must do their best the first time or on a continuous basis?
 
Our goal is student learning. We all know students learn at different rates, and students have issues that may affect their testing ability on a given day. Many real life final tests such as a driving test, ACT, SAT, bar exam, Olympics, etc.  offer multiple opportunities for mastery with no penalty for number of attempts. There are still deadlines within units and some of the practice work is time-bound. There are indeed cut-off times for assessments per teacher discretion such as when retakes of assessments can no longer be offered.  
 
 
How will student progress be measured?
 
Our standards were synthesized into a condensed version for the report card to provide clear and concise information to parents regarding student progress. Teachers collect evidence of student understanding primarily through assessments but may include projects and observations to accurately evaluate overall individual student performance using the following scale: 3 - 2 - 1
 
 
Will standards be leveled by grade?
 
Yes. all standards will be directly associated to grade-level standards as dictated by Common Core, State, and District-level standards. Students and Gr. 6 and 7 will participate in standards-based grading throughout their middle school career while the traditional grading system is phased out over the next two school years.