My post for today is a little bit of a cheat. I’d like to talk a little bit about standards-based grading (SBG). If you’re not familiar with SBG, it’s essentially a way of assessing student learning that focus on measuring student progress against a learning target instead of reporting student learning with a letter grade. Lots of people say they don’t understand SBG or they have no experience with it, but if they’re parents and their kids went to school it is likely they do know about it. Many kids in younger grades are assessed using learning targets — “The student can add single digit numbers,” would be an example of a learning target, and as the school year progresses, the teacher checks the student’s progress against this target and then reports that to the parents. The goal is that by the end of the year, the student achieves mastery or proficiency (some say there are synonymous, some say they are different, but that’s a topic for a different blog post). Admittedly, the learning targets get more complex and more challenging to measure as kids get older, but the goal is to provide students, parents, and teachers with more detailed information about what a students knows and where more work needs to be done. SBG is meant to be more informative than an A, B, C, D, or F. Letter grades can reflect so much more than just what a students has learned, and they can be defined differently (if I asked you to define each of those letter grades and compared your definitions to mine, there would likely be discrepancies on what those grades mean). I am working hard to learn about SBG — it is a huge mind shift for someone who has spent her entire career giving letter grades to junior ELA students. I like it in theory; I am still trying to understand it in practice (which is doubly challenging for me since for the past 6 years, I have been working as my district’s instructional technology resource teacher, so I don’t have my own students, so I am not actually using SBG). Not too long ago, on my education blog, I wrote about an epiphany I had about SBG, so I’m going to link to it here. Like I said, I am still working very hard to learn all I can about SBG, so if you’re able to help me on my learning path with insights, resources, personal experiences, etc., I’d love to hear them!
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