Have you ever received a grade in a class you felt you didn’t deserve?

Community Outreach Academy  -Have you ever received a grade in a class you felt you didn’t deserve?

Have you ever received a grade in a class you felt you didn’t deserve? Did you ever struggle in a class without knowing exactly what to do to right the ship? Did you ever have a teacher that you knew was a particularly easy or difficult grader? Did you ever get a low grade on a test or project and then know there was no way to bring your grade up to where you wanted it?

Standards-based grading (SBG) attempts to address some of these mysteries and inefficiencies. At its core, SBG is about making learning goals and student progress clear so that students know exactly where and how they need to improve. For example, if a 2nd grade student receives a C+ in reading, what do we know? We know that the student and his parents will probably not be satisfied with their current score. But we don’t know where exactly the student is lacking. Is he struggling to read grade-level material fluently? Can he read fluently, but struggles to identify the moral of fables and folktales?

Or does he struggle when it comes to reading informational text? SBG done well would take the guesswork out, which means teachers, students, and parents know where to focus. It is designed to give the best possible feedback. Consequently, students know where they stand and tend to buy into their coursework because they feel they have more control and ownership over their education.

Our teachers put a lot of time and effort into separating our assessments by standard. Often they even design assessments themselves in order to get the truest picture of how well a stu- dent has mastered a given standard. We continue to improve our practices in SBG through a committee that meets once a month. This committee has been reading the research on SBG, exploring tools that can help us implement it better, and even redesigning assessments. Currently, the committee’s main goal is to design a report card that clearly communicates learning targets to parents and students with simple “I can…” statements. For example, “I can tell and write time to the nearest five minutes.” We will work to work on this next school year and determine which online grading program best meets our needs. While we make this transition, we will use GradeLink for one more year. Because we are in the process of changing assessments and how we grade things we will be using a more simplified version of the GradeLink report card. If you like the specificity of the current report card, don’t worry! Your child’s teacher will still have lots of standard-specific information about your student’s strengths and areas for growth.

Daniel Coonan,
Curriculum Coach

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