As an alternatively certified educator, I often wondered whether grading was taught in college education classes. Many times I’d be entering grades in my grade book wondering “what do these really mean?” I’m constantly changing categories and percentages with no real understanding of what the grade is actually showing my students. And, I hate to admit this, but sometimes I just put a 100 on the paper simply because the student completed it.
It turns out, most educators I know struggle with these very same problems and questions, and there is no “Grading 101” class that teachers take during college that magically makes them experts at adding and subtracting points on an assignment. That little letter found on our student’s transcripts can have a huge impact on our students’ future, and it’s time we make that number make sense.
Does taking off 10 points because a student forgot his or her name on a paper show what that student learned in science? Does giving participation points show whether an English student can analyze a text? Does grading for neatness let the student know he really understood the events that led to World War II?
I had the opportunity to attend a PLC seminar put on by Solution Tree last August, and I went to two breakout sessions on grading. This was the first time the concept of Standards Based Grading (SBG) was introduced to me, and I could not wait to try it. It was an “aha” moment for me, and FINALLY grading made sense. Instead of categories such as Tests, Quizzes, and Projects, the standards become the categories and the grades show mastery towards those standards. It seems so obvious now that it has been presented to me, but the concept really is revolutionary to the teaching profession.
My PLC and I spent the last seamster breaking dow the Common Core Standards into student friendly language, and now I am prepared to try this SBG concept with my honors class during the upcoming semester. I know that it will be a trial and error event, but I am lucky enough to have a strong PLC and great leadership at my school to help with this change. I plan to use this blog to share what works and what doesn’t in order to help more educators as they make the switch.
Anyone else making the switch to SBG this semester? I’d love to hear from you!