Disclaimers: I did not invent Standards Based Grading, I did not come up with this system 100% on my own, I was/am a huge advocate for it in classrooms, and I do love Dan Meyers. Also, this is all my opinion. I will site things when necessary so you know I am not just making things up. Check my other posts!
This system was new for my kids and their parents. When I explained it to kids and parents I told them they had to think of what the big idea was: When you are checking your grade, it is like reading a thermometer. As a teacher, you are getting a reading (or temperature) of what they know at that exact moment.
Reason #1: I do not hear, “I need help” or “I am confused” or “I don’t get it.” I hear, “Ms. B can I get some help on Concept 14, Simplifying Square Roots? I am getting confused when I need to….” I hear, “Ms. B I need some help on Concept 19, Factoring by GCF, I can’t figure out what stays in the parenthesis.” How amazing to hear 7th and 8th graders articulate what they don’t know?
Reason #2: I don’t have kids cramming before tests. I have kids keeping up with what we are learning all year. Even if they are doing a lot of studying before the test, they know what to focus on in their studying.
Reason #3: My tests used to be this huge range of scores between 60 and 100. Now, my test grades are all over an 83, with just a few (1 or 2) 60-70.
Reason #4: Kids and parents now have access to their grades online which means that this system is easy for kids (and their parents) to keep track of on a daily basis.
Reason #5: I don’t have 5 page tests that I gain nothing from, taking me hours to grade. I have short quizzes that take me 45 minutes to grade and enter for my 50+ kids. I have time to write them notes or have a conversation with them.
Reason #6: I also notice an attitude change with my kids. They get competitive with themselves, to get 5s the first time around or to get more 4s and 5s on the quiz then they did the last time. I give them a star for 5s and they love them (oh middle schoolers…).
Reason #7: I also notice an attitude change with my kids where they don’t get so defeated. There are no longer these tests that hang over them or a thought that they can’t bring their grade up. They know that to bring their grade up, they need to learn something. It is as simple as that.
Reason #8:My favorite reason though is my kids perspective on this system. They love it. They can keep track of it. They will also tell you that their grade is a reflection of what they know TODAY (or realistically the last time Ms. B entered grades in), not what they knew all quarter.