This week’s #msSunFun is on our grading policies.  I know many people in the teaching world right now are moving toward standards based grading or are trying to make the decision.  I actually don’t have to make that movement or choice because we already do SBG district wide and our gradebook is set up just for this purpose.

This is the third year my school has done SBG, and I actually moved to this school the year they started doing it.  Previously I did traditional grading at my old school.  There are many many things I like about SBG, although I do feel like some things are a bit more difficult, and it is definitely something you have to get used to and work on in order to fully understand.

We have a 4 point scale.  a 3.0 is understanding grade level material, a 4.0 is going above and beyond grade level, a 2.0 is having the basic knowledge needed, a 1.0 is being able to complete grade level material only with a lot of assistance.  Students can also earn 0.5, 1.5, 2.5, and 3.5 for being in between (or below in the case of 0.5) those things.

I would say the biggest thing I have learned is to make sure to write down a scale for each one of my assessments to keep things consistent.  So if I give a 4 question quiz on area of trapezoids, I would write down something like

4 correct = 3.0

3 correct = 2.5

2 correct = 2.0

1 correct = 1.0

This part would totally depend on the type of material I was assessing.  Even more importantly, I would look at the mistakes each students could make.  For example, students could choose the wrong formula, they could use the correct formula, but instead of adding the bases, they could multiply them, they could do a basic multiplication or addition miscalculation, they could not include units at the end, they could not square the units… so then I decide where I think these things fall on the scale of “understanding” the problem or “meeting grade level”.  This is where it gets difficult.  So if a student gets 4 correct answers, but doesn’t include units, are they really performing at grade level?  If they are asked to find area and perimeter, and their units are squared for perimeter and not squared for area, do they really understand the difference between both?  If a student does everything correctly except for they make a basic addition mistake, do they really not understand the objective of finding area of trapezoids?

I do love SBG because kids can’t have an A in the class simply because they work hard on homework and have an F in the class because they don’t do anything.  They actually have to know their stuff and earn their grade.  The grade they have is definitely refelective of what they know.

What I don’t like is for both parents and kids, a kid who receives a D or F knows that isn’t good.  Their parents know it too, obviously.  And I feel like before these kinds of grades would ignite some sort of fire to work a little harder next time for most kids, and parents would certainly understand at conferences that this was not acceptable.  However, no one really understands what a 1.0 means.  We all do our best to explain to the kids and parents what this really means, but it still doesn’t have the impact that an F has.

Overall though, I think we are on a great track in education with this movement and I am happy that I don’t have to try to do it on my own like many of you are trying to do right now.  It is much easier that all of us are in this together and so we are all explaining the same things in every class every year.