8 Questions about SBG(Standards Based Grading)
My anxiety about implementing SBG next year manifested in the questions I've asked myself over and over as I am creating my grading policy.
1. What will the administrator who is reviewing my grading policy think?
I've run it by the administrator in charge of my observations, and he has given it the okay. We turn our grading policies in to another administrator at the end of the year. Admittedly I'd love for it to be questioned/discussed, but would it be suggested that I revise it to a more "traditional" grading policy?
2. What will parents think? What will students think?
I'm hoping that it is a completely new and different experience for them. A lot of guidance, explanation, and information will be key to making this transition for them. There will probably be a large amount of resistance at first ("Where's the homework grade?"). I'm going to speculate that most will feel empowered to take control of their own learning once they have grown comfortable within the system(I don't enjoy that word). They may be uncomfortable as it is much more difficult to work this system(yuck) than a points based grading system. If the only positive outcome is that students stop asking "How many points is this worth?" I will consider my switch to SBG a total victory.
3. Is it possible to raise or lower a "grade" at any time? Should it be?
The raising part I understand and I'm looking forward to students being continuous learners. If the mastery level can improve at any time, it should also be able to decline at any time (an indicator of a lower level of mastery than originally thought). See Question #2.
4. How will I ever manage to keep up with assessing students skill levels?
Idea #1: Share a unique Google Document with each student and have that serve as a running record. Update gradebook at the end of the week upon looking over that student's running record.
Idea #2: Excel/Google Docs...Google Docs to keep notes to self about conversations/insights with students. Use a Google Form to update a mastery level on any skill at any time (Name - Skill - Mastery Level). I don't know enough about it, but I feel like Microsoft Access may be better equipped to handle this. Summer project: Learn Microsoft Access.
5. What defines an "A"?
Schools tell us that at least 90% of the material learned would be "A" work. By this thought process under SBG, it would be impossible to have an A for the 1st or 2nd marking periods (I can hear the college-obsessed kids freaking out). Using 4 mastery levels (advanced, proficient, basic, below basic), could you define an "A" as a majority of skills mastered at the advanced level? What if that student was below basic in everything else? To wrap some numbers around it, here are my thoughts...
Advanced - 1
Proficient - 0.8
Basic - 0.6
Below Basic - 0.4
Some Excel simulations I've done have led me to this assignment of points for skill levels. Anything in the "A" range must be earned through Advanced and Proficiency with MINIMAL basic/below basic. I'm not sure I want students to be even thinking about how to get an A, as this just creates a climate of "Do the minimum required to get an A". Also, I am totally going to change those levels of mastery to something less Pennsylvania Dept. of Ed to something much more Mr. C
6. Will kids do their homework/assignments?
This is a huge concern. If you didn't do it, you're going to have trouble learning it. On the other hand, if you already get it, why do another 30 exercises just because a teacher told you to do so? Just like any homework assignment, it'll get done if it's worthwhile.
7. Will it lead to higher scores/achievement on the AP exam?
I'm thinking that on the whole, content coverage and a frequent revisiting of old knowledge should be very conducive to high AP exam scores. I will need to periodically do some focusing on AP exam type exercises and a more traditional classroom setting. It'll be a welcome change to an open, self-directed learning environment :)
8. Quizzes/Tests...what role will they play?
I think I answered this already. See #8. I know I am definitely going to give a quiz and have students grade it immediately. Also going to give quizzes with Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced questions.
Whew, that's all...for now.
P.S. I end a ton of sentences with prepositions, and use quotations a lot more frequently than I should.