Friday, August 31, 2012

Standards Based Grading in a Traditional Gradebook...

So as I align my courses to the Common Core I am really trying to incorporate the core's practices and the idea of mastery versus sorting (grades).  Within a traditional grade scale I have worked hard to only use summative assessments (quizzes, tests and projects) and have practice/formative assessment to be only a small portion (~3%, this is more because of community expectations).

I have made this "migration" over a number of years - so this grading scale that requires mastery of topics on summative assessments and does not reward the "head-down, nice kid who does their homework" is now the new normal at my school.  Now the next step in the migration: SBG, Standards based grading....

So with the thought of never sitting still and really making the Common core relevant to myself and my students I am including standards that will be measured each quarter.  I decided to start with standards that should have been mastered in previous years for quarter 1, quarter 2 will be quarter 1 material and so forth.  But our gradebook did not support it - so I made an interesting system that includes SBG on a traditional 93% A, 85% B, 78% C and 70% D scale. 

I made the SBG portion 10% of the overall grade this year and simply had the gradebook show a check mark for AM (Advanced Mastery) & M (Mastery) and MISSING for IM (Initial Mastery) and NM (No Mastery).   I adjusted my syllabus to explain that these Standards are always graded per the last check (not the highest score) and made the conversion to a grade happen behind what the students and parents see.  (I convert AM to 10/10, M to 8-9/10, IM 6/10 and NM 5/10 (I don't believe in entering zeros). 

I then tie the Standards to my classroom rule that the instructor (me) can create requirements to rework any score less than 85%.  This way I can give more targeted instruction and practice to students whose skills are IM and NM.  It has taken more work on entering the items and making descriptions fit but I have a framework within my gradebook and it is a good step - a step with a continous improvement mentality.  I really believe that the most important thing I am discovering as 6th year teacher is small steps every year result in big changes. 

My hope is to see improvement in the standards that are measured (hoping to do about 50ish per course).  I plan to check them on the cumulative final and look at power test results over 2 years (state testing and ACT).