Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Initial Thoughts on SBG Year 2

Last year I attempted standards based grading, but I didn't have full buy in from my administration, I absorbed 4 classes into my already existent 4 classes 9 weeks into the school year, and I transferred districts mid-year to stay sane. Needless to say, it was not a success. Fortunately, I did implement it enough to identify some flaws and decide how to fix them. Three weeks into the year, I have given an SBG quiz, SBG test, and we are now in the retest process. Here are my initial thoughts:

  1. It's hard to explain. To anyone. Students. Parents. Teachers. Colleagues. Nobody gets it until they see it in action. They think I'm crazy. "But where's my grade?" they say. "How did I get an 'M' if I only got 6/8 right?" they ask. "How has my child had five quizzes and 7 tests in two weeks of school!?" "You give 100's for kids who don't get everything correct!?" "That's so much work!" etc. etc. etc. Even after giving my first test back, my kids are still floundering with the concept. I expected that, though. I'm hoping by the second test we have a better understanding.
  2. Grading is easy. I'm not just looking for a correct answer. I'm looking at the work. It makes it easy to know if they get it or they don't. I can look at my set of 8 integer addition and subtraction problems and see that they are using multiplication and division rules for the signs. I can look at fraction problems and see that they know to find a common denominator but are doing something weird with the numerator (you don't want to know), or that they can get the answer as an improper fraction but changing it to a mixed number is a skill that has yet to be mastered (scary). It causes me to reflect. It causes them to reflect. They are already getting good at looking at their work and telling me where they went wrong. That's an excellent start and a great skill to have.
  3. It does not inflate their grades--or destroy them. I was concerned that by taking the Mastery=100 Developing=65 No Mastery=0 approach I would be inflating some and destroying others. My grades are about where I would anticipate if they were receiving traditional grades because classwork and homework are graded as usual. Nobody has a crazy high grade, and the kids with low grades haven't been doing any of the other work either. They love that they get to go back and retest. Some of them hate it and say it's too much work--they're the same ones who don't do my homework or classwork though, so I'm not surprised.
  4. It's not as hard to keep up with as I made it last year. I made myself a spreadsheet this year to write their achievement levels. So much easier than making them comments with the grade in PowerSchool. That was insanity. Also, by using the M, DM, NM scale rather than 1, 2, 3, 4, it is more clear cut where they fall and it is easier to enter into my grade book. *sigh of relief*

I love it so far. It will grow on the kids as they realize how it works. My principal loves it. He was on board before I even brought it to his attention. I'm looking forward to seeing it pan out this year.

Meanwhile, I uploaded new foldables for the real number system, cube roots, square roots, irrational numbers, and repeating decimals to my TPT store today, so be sure to check it out! :)


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