I had my class discussion on standards based grading with my freshmen honors students, and I can tell you, there was complete panic in the room. I suppose I should have anticipated it, but SBG just sounds like such a great idea in my own head, I thought they’d be right on board with me.
First, they kind of laughed when we talked about losing points for leaving a name off a paper or for having sloppy handwriting. They’d all been in that situation before. They did agree that having points taken off an assignment for trivial things like that doesn’t really allow the grade to show if they know the material or not.
I then asked them what they are supposed to learn in each class.
We learn whatever the name of the class is, obviously. In geometry we learn geometry. In English, we learn English, history is history.
They didn’t really know how to answer what English is supposed to be taught in English, and how it is different from 8th grade to 9th. They couldn’t tell me how their geometry teacher determines what skill they should learn each day. They assumed teachers just made it up.
That’s when I introduced the standards and the ideas behind standards based grading.
Why are they going to change the system on us? It’s been working just fine for years! And I know how to work this system!
Why are you even telling us this? Why didn’t you just change and not let us know about it? Now I’m freaking out!
I forgot something big when I had this discussion. Change is scary. And I had my students scared. I tried to calm their fears, but I can tell it will be a process.
By the end of the period, most agreed that SBG sounds like a better idea than traditional grading systems, but they are concerned with making the change.
Tomorrow they will begin researching SBG and will create a proposal of how it should work in our class. I look forward to seeing if their perspectives change as they learn more about SBG or if the fear of change will continue it’s hold.