Thursday, June 19, 2014

The beginning of my journey to Standards Based Grading

      Today I finished my training sessions on Standards Based Grading. How do I write about 4 full days of training and work? Hard to do but I'll try my best.

Gina (left), me (center), and Mike (right), working hard at SBG training. These are two of my amazing colleagues from my school.

     Where to start. Hmmmm... So what have I learned about Standards Based Grading?
  • Do grades reward working or learning? Grades should determined by academic performance only.  I never really questioned my grading policies before. It makes sense to me now that the grades I was giving were not a true picture of my students knowledge. It was so inaccurate because homework was a completion grade and that does not show what my students do or do not understand.
  • Behavior is important and should be communicated to parents and dealt with in another way. It should not be something we add or subtract from a grade. Effort or just being a nice kid should not earn you a better grade. Just as your students who have challenging behaviors should not get a lower grade. Grades are not for sale. Bringing in a box of Kleenex does not show me how a child has improved their ability to factor  (or fill in the blank.).Grades reflect knowledge that can be shown through evidence.
  • You  need clear standards and all assessments should be consistent with the standards.We need to communicate clearly to our students through rubrics what the objectives are. Something we have decided to do is to place all the learning standards for the unit we are working on in each math classroom and refer to them everyday throughout the unit. We are not just going to place them on the board daily but have all the standards for the unit instead of just one or two on the board. We want them to see the big picture everyday of the unit. We did create a generic rubric that we are going to tweak for each of our standards. This is still a work in progress. 
  • Group grades for group work should not be used. Again students should only be graded on their individual knowledge that can be shown through evidence. Grading students lower for work that others do not do or giving a student who does nothing a higher grade is not a true reflection of their knowledge. Group work is absolutely a valuable learning tool and should not be eliminated.
  • Anything that can be copied should not be graded. We have decided not count homework as part of the grade but we will keep track of it. It will appear in our grade book with a weight of zero. That way parents, students and teachers can see what has or has not been completed. Also, when a student wants to retest and has not done homework for the practice, one of the criteria to retest will be to do homework and show us evidence that they are have practiced the targets they want to improve.
  • No more completion grades, only grade assessments. We have decided to have our grades weighted as 20% formative assessments and 80% summative assessments. Some believe that the entire grade should be summative only. We aren't ready for that.
  • Grades are inconsistent from teacher to teacher, so aligning and grading  to the standards gives a true grade of student performance. We have always aligned our tests and work to the standards but now we are switching to Common Core Standards so we need to rewrite the assessments to reflect these standards.
     So there is my brain dump from my training. There was so much more but these are the parts that really resonated with my school. We are in the process of many things and I will share them in later posts. So much to do and so little time. Next week: Geometer's Sketchpad class.

     On a funny note, a teacher from our science department came up to us and said, "Look at this great retest form that _______ Middle School gave me that they use." This was amazing because this school never shares anything unlike my amazing school that shares everything with everyone. I looked at the form and smiled and said, "That's the form that I stole from Sarah at math = love , that Kathryn Smith,one of our reading teachers,  rewrote for me, that I posted on my blog on the Retesting - a new idea for me post.." Too funny.

      And of course, I can't leave without sharing something I love with you. If you have never seen Tarsia puzzles before, you have to download the free program  from Mr Barton Maths that has a wonderful list of puzzles that are already made for you to use. (Do not hit the first download button you see. Read the directions further down.) We use these all the time and the kids love them. You can also create your own puzzles but there are so many I haven't had to do that yet. They are so much fun and look very nice hanging in your classroom. Enjoy!


                                                                       Til next time,


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