Standards Based Grading "AH-HA" Moments

At the last district institute day, my colleague and I were asked to speak to our peers about the purpose of grading with standards based grading. I felt a little overwhelmed by this task for two reasons:
1. Grading is very personal, how can I tell people what their purpose should be
2. I didn't want people to be annoyed with me for telling them how to grade!

This standards based grading journey that I'm on has been very interesting and rewarding, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that it was my choice to try it. I can understand the reluctance of others to try it if they feel it is something they have to do instead of something they want to try.

So, instead of focusing on what grading purposes should be, we polled some of our peers that are trying SBG this year and asked them what was their "A-HA" moment that they realized that their purpose had changed for the better.

Here are their words, that they so generously shared with us:

Annie (me), Math
In the past, I gave points for assessment but also for participation and homework, which probably artificially inflated (or in some cases deflated) their grade. A student could have a “B” but have minimal understanding or a student could have an “F” and understand the content quite well. I started to feel my grades weren’t honest feedback. I made the change to SBG when I realized that I wanted to give feedback to students and parents that reflected how well a student understood the content.

Lauren, Science
I had a moment of clarity that came when I sat down to grade papers and realized that I was grading what the students actually knew, instead of looking to see if they were able to fill in an answer.  

Lynnette, ELA
After researching SBG over the summer, and attending summer PD, I understood better the philosophy of SBG and saw how powerful it could be for student learning. I feel like my lesson planning and the assessments I give are more targeted. The rubrics ELA has been working on also have focused my teaching.

Katie, Math
After I implemented SBG, my moment came when I looked around the room and could say with certainty what each student in the classroom knew based on their reported level of mastery. In addition,  when a student needed help, they could identify where their own weakness was and we could work only on that specific topic and not have to do meaningless work to raise their grade.  

Beth, Special Education
I think for me it is that I now know the specific students that need help on a specific concept. Who need extra practice and which students I need to pull and reteach. 

Amanda, ELA
I knew I had made the right move with switching to a modified SBG model when I could pick out what standard we were assessing and when.  Before SBG, we just kind of chose a project or assignment without the standards picked out first.  Now we pick the standards and come up with the assignments from that. 

Meagan, Math
Mine came when discussing the value of HW and realizing that a zero because they did not do their HW was not an indicator of their understanding.  I have had many students that get the work without doing HW everyday and I have students who do the HW and still do not understand the concept.  Their grades were not a reflection of their understanding.


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