Standards Based Grading

I love the concept of standards based grading (SBG), the idea of a representation of progress without being limited to concrete numbers. The idea of grading on a scale of comprehension versus numbers with no meaning behind them sounds good to me. But when it comes time for report cards, teachers using SBG are compelled to translate those benchmarks into numbers for the gradebooks and the parents.

Unfortunately, sometimes this translation can turn what seemed like a fine place to be (your child understands all concepts up to level 3, but is having some trouble on level 4 problems) into a lower grade than usual (a B where most would expect an A or at least an A-). When these grades come home to parents, it is possible to instigate worry and confusion. The parents accept the practice but just don’t know what to do when their kid is scoring lower than usual. Suddenly the practice is the scapegoat for the cause of the bad grade, and parents turn against it. What can be done to prevent this?

What needs to be done to eliminate confusion between parents and teachers on the system? Would showing the system and translation on parents night or during conferences ease the possible worry? Would writing a little blurb on how the child can improve and move to the next benchmark help the parents not blame the practice? Do you have a system the works well? If so, it would be really neat to hear about it! And to reinforce the beginning, I am all for SBG but I’d heard about a few concerns, so out of curiosity I decided to voice them.

2 thoughts on “Standards Based Grading

  1. Tara,
    Isn’t the bigger problem just how we view grades in general? Maybe we aren’t understanding the real purpose of grades in the first place? Or maybe grades have lost their purpose. After all, you don’t need grades in the things you really care about to know how you’re doing.

    • Yeah mainly that. I think that its the general grade oriented mindset that prevents others from accepting a form of assessment like SBG. But I think that some form of feedback is necessary to gauge understanding.

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