I've spent the last few weeks reading and rereading several teachers' explanations and reflections on standards-based grading (including, but not limited to Shawn Cornally, Jason Buell, Frank Noschese, Matt Townsley, and several others who will be mad at me for not giving them a shout out). The more I read, the more I knew that standards-based grading was something that in some sort of sideways, subconscious way I've been working towards implementing the last several years even though I didn't even know what "SBG" stood for until May of this year.
Here's my basic understanding of SBG to date:
- Assessment and grades should accurately reflect student learning (not just student homework-turning-in abilities)
- Instead of using cumulative-points-earned as the basis for student grades, use progress towards a set of "standards (or "learning goals", or "knowledge criteria," or "whatever you'd like to call them")."
- These standards describe specific areas of knowledge or expertise that students should gain. For example, "I can explain the law of gravity and understand what factors affect the strength of gravitational force."
- Grades in your gradebook should help students realize where their understanding is great and where it's lacking.
- Knowing they flunked "Quiz: Chapter 7" isn't helpful. Knowing they got 6 out of 10 on "I can explain why stars transition from one stage to another as they progress through their life cycle" gives the student valuable information that allows them to focus their remediation.
- A grade on a standard is not set in stone (until exam time). Students can re-assess on any standard at any point in the school year. Grades can go down if the student shows a lack of understanding later in the course.
- This should allow a students' grade to more accurately reflect their actual learning rather than be punished for not learning something before a big test when they knew it by the end of the course. Likewise, the student who crams successfully for the big test then forgets it all should have a grade that better reflects actual understanding.
I know! Sweet, right?
Fortunately, I've been blessed with a personality that's totally fine jumping into a project without having worked out all the details ahead of time. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to explain this whole SBG thing to quite a few students, parents, teachers, et cetera, in just a few days.
Tomorrow I'll share what I've got so far in the "details" folder.