Sunday, April 29, 2018

Encourage and Facilitate Growth with Standards Based Grading

I think it is important to encourage growth mindsets in students. That's why I allow students to retake content standards with no minimums or maximums (e.g. if a student achieves a 9/10, they can still retake). When a student does retake a content standard, they get different questions that assess the same "I can..." statement. I have also had students retake using different modalities as needed (e.g. whiteboards, desmos).

On the other hand, I rarely allow students to retake practice and scholarship standards. I tend to assess practice standards while students are working on collaborative tasks, and it is difficult to recreate the same situation after the fact.

By their very nature, scholarship standards must be assessed during a regular class. It wouldn't make sense for a student to be able to retake a scholarship standard. If they could, it would look a lot like "extra credit for extra work" - something that I have tried to steer clear of.

Finding time for Retakes

It can be hard to find ways to give students multiple opportunities to demonstrate their understanding in strictly traditional settings. The first school I attempted SBG in had a 30 minute advisory period in the middle of day. The schedule was set up so that most of my students had advisory at the same time as me (advisories were set up by grade). I would simply write students a pass, and they could see me for help studying, or to retake an assessment. There were some students that did not have advisory at the same time as me, and those students came into my room for their lunch or during their study halls.

The school I am also has an advisory period, but everyone has advisory at a different time. So, I’ve had to work to find time.

I’ve also set some rules. Only one standard can be re-tested per day, and You cannot receive tutoring right before you re-test a standard. I used to tell students they could only re-test twice, but it happens so rarely, it’s not worth discussing with students.

Grading Retakes

While some online grade books allow multiple grades for one assignment, with some sort of weighted average, my grade book does not. Once a student retakes a standard, I simply replace the old grade with the new grade and record the old scores in the comment section. Each student's grade reflects the most recent evidence of learning, and I put the old grades in the comment section.

Encouraging Growth with Visible Celebrations 

Students who score at least an 8/10 on a content standard are invited to sign a sheet of chart paper with the "I can..." statement written on it. It's a quick and public way to honor mastery without calling out those who do not sign the paper. Students who achieve an 8/10 on a retake can also sign the chart paper, and so there is an incentive to retake that some students are drawn to.

Encouraging Growth by Grading Formatives... Kinda...

Another interesting question is the role of formative assessment. Most experts believe that formative assessment is only for and feedback to the student, and should not be graded. I agree, but parents and administrators in more traditional settings like to see more grades. So, I put formative assessments in the grade book up until we take a summative assessment (i.e. content standard).

Once I put the summative assessment in, I uncheck the "count in final grade" box. The assignment stays in the book, but doesn't count towards the final grade. This way, students can see their progress without being penalized for it. And, there are plenty of assignments in the grade book... now everyone is happy.

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