Students, What Do Your Grades Mean?

As I was contemplating the best way to introduce standards based grading (SBG) into my classroom, I thought, why not have the students help?  If the whole point of SBG is to provide better feedback and help the students understand where they really are in a class, why not have the students help me figure out how to implement SBG?

When school starts next Wednesday, I will begin by asking my honors class a few questions.

  • What do grades mean?
  • Is it ok to have a C in a class?
  • Does a grade really show what you’ve learned if points are deducted for neatness?
  • What about extra credit?  Does completing a worksheet for bonus points really help you learn what you did not understand on the original assignment?

I think it will be interesting to see the answers they come up with to these questions.  As a student, I never really thought about what a grade really meant.  I just know I wanted an A.  As a teacher I often have a hard time understanding the students who just aren’t motivated by grades.  Perhaps it is because those important letters really don’t have enough meaning behind them.

After our class discussion, I’m going to give my kids the real work.  What do you want your grade to mean, and how can your teachers accomplish this?

In collaborative groups they will research and write a proposal on how teachers should more effectively grade students’ work.  I will give them their “I Can” statements that they should work toward during this project.

Common Core ELA Literacy W 9-10.1

I can make logical arguments about a topic or text.

I can make counterclaims against those arguments.

I can support my claims with evidence.

I can provide a logical closing statement.

I think it’s going to be interesting to include my students in the process.  They will get to have their voices heard, and hopefully suggestions that the kids make will shape how the entire district grades in the future.


About Bobbi Gore

I am a high school English teacher at Santa Fe South charter school in Oklahoma City. I love incorporating technology into my classroom, and I am always willing to try something new with my students.
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