Sunday, March 1, 2015

My First Nine Weeks with SBG and Grades So Far

I am almost to the end of the first nine weeks with Standards Based Grading.

Comparing the old way of grading to SBG:

2nd Nine Weeks I had 14 A's.  3rd Nine Weeks 12 of those students still had A's, along with 8 others who have raised their grade to an A. (A couple had slipped to a B.)

2nd Nine Weeks I had 14 D's and F's.  3rd Nine weeks I have no D's or F's.

What have I noticed?

1. It is harder to get an A+.  There is no extra credit.  They must make 100% on almost every standard to make an A+.  They have to consistently show mastery on the skill on every assignment.

2. Students are less likely to fail, as they are proficient on many of the standards.  There are just a few that cause them issues. Their grades reflect their successes.

3. Organizing my grade book is a challenge.  I'm still trying to figure out a system that I love and that works for me.  I'm hoping someone in blog land has an easy way to do this and is willing to share it with me.

4. Keeping track of feedback on each standard, requires more than just a number or a letter grade.  I have documentation and notes in an expandable file.  That file serves as my memory and reminds me of the strengths and weaknesses of each student.

5. I used to give a test and the results were the results. Period. The end.  Now, I give a test, re-teach, give another test, and sometimes re-teach again before the final test.  Coming up with multiple assessments and multiple re-teaching opportunities is challenging; however, it makes sense to practice several times before the final assessment. And the benefit to the students is obvious.

6. A parent asked me at parent teacher conferences about "big" tests or unit tests.  They wanted to know if the students still take those.  They don't take my old traditional unit tests, but one test now can address several different standards. In fact, on the first Act of Julius Caesar, five different reading standards and one writing standard were addressed.  I'd say that is a "big" test.  All tests just look different now.

7. There is less memory work and more analyzing, reading, and figuring it out on their own.

8. I am not "providing" all the information.  They have to research, study, and teach each other before I ever step into the picture.

Do I have questions?  You betcha!

1. How does late work affect the grade?  Is there a way to do that when they can still show excellence on the standards?

2. Are some standards so important that they should be addressed every time?  Ex.  Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

3. How do I handle final exams?  (I need to work that one out before the end of the year.)

I would say that Standards Based Grading is here to stay in my classroom.  There are too many benefits to the students. I know that I will figure out the record keeping, if only through trial and error.

Am I glad I made this switch? Absolutely.  I see not only areas that students need to improve upon, but it also becomes evident exactly where my teaching weaknesses are.  I guess that means that we're all learning.

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