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Standards Based Grading Practices

Standards Based Grading Practices


In this lesson you will understand the similarities and differences between standards based and competency based instruction and the implications for assessment and grading.

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Source: Zero, Pixabay,; Paper, Pixabay,; Mirror, Clker; Globe, Clker,; Stick Figure, Clker,

Video Transcription

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Hi everyone, and welcome. The title of todat's lesson is standards-based grading practices, certainly a topic that you've heard a lot about lately. Let's get started. The term standards-based grading is often misunderstood. Its definition is that students are graded on a scale of proficiency toward meeting end of the year standards.

The transition to standards-based grading can be difficult for both teachers, and especially for parents, because it's probably not what they were used to growing up in schools themselves. Another hurdle is that parents who are accustomed to seeing consistently high scores on report cards are now seeing measures indicating growth in language such as below proficient, nearly proficient, proficient, and proficient with distinction.

So why are we making the shift? Because past grading practices have not always reported what students know, or are able to do, and often relied on what we call dirty data. This includes such factors as behavior, attendance, participation, homework, and turning things in on time.

Although extremely important, and relevant to report, those indicators do not give a true picture of how proficient a student is on a given topic, therefore making it difficult for parents, students, and teachers to pinpoint areas of strengths and needs.

Educators and researchers, like Thomas Guskey, Robert Marzano, and Donald Reeves have been leading the movement towards standards-based grading. They recognized the difference between not completing the work on time and not being able to complete the work. They understand that it is our responsibility to create a culture where completing assignments is simply non-negotiable. They have described this as the power of 0.

In addition to traditional grading practices being less accurate, these and other researchers explain that by giving zeros, students will lose motivation and may not even realize that they are actually demonstrating mastery of some of the standards.

Here are some of their other recommendations. That we should never use grades as punishments. That missing work should be completed, not given a zero. Placing too much emphasis on one assignment can be very detrimental.

Rick Wormeli recommends changing 0's to 50's, because not using 0's gives a more accurate picture of the student's ability. Researcher John Hattie has compiled over 15 years of extensive research on what works best in education. Three of his major outcomes are as follows.

That the more transparent the teacher makes the learning goals, then the more likely the student is to engage in the work. The more that students are aware of the criteria for success, the more the student can see the specific actions that are needed to attain these criteria. The more there is feedback about progress, the more positive attributes to learning are developed. He calls this making learning visible.

In conclusion, here are some positive practices that would be found in a standards-based setting. For example, grading on a standard, detailed feedback, opportunity for students to revise their work, and giving students clear expectations.

Conversely, here's what you wouldn't see in a standards-based classroom. Teachers depending on dirty data, teachers offering limited feedback, one and done assignments, unclear or surprise assessments.

Let's go ahead and summarize what we covered in this lesson. We began by going over the definition of standards-based grading. We talked about the shift to standards-based grading and how it's a little bit challenging at times. We discussed the power of zero, and we introduced John Hattie's visible learning, and we also looked at examples and non-examples of things you would find in a standards-based based classroom.

Here's today's food for thought. Examine your own practices and beliefs. Do they have more in common with traditional or standards-based practices?

For more information on how to apply we learned in this video, please view the additional resources section that accompanies this presentation. The additional resources include links useful for applications of the course material, including a brief description of each resource. Thanks again for watching. Have a great day. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Standards Based Grading Practices"

(00:00-00:12) Intro

(00:13-00:48) Definition of Standards Based Grading

(00:49-01:34) Why Shift to Standards Based Grading?

(01:35-02:38) Power of Zero

(02:39-03:15) Making Learning Visible

(03:16-03:48) Standards Based Examples and Non-Examples

(03:49-04:19) Summary

(04:20-04:54) Food For Thought

Additional Resources

Standards Based Learning Teacher Handbook

This comprehensive handbook from Sheridan, Kentucky instructs teachers on how and why to use standards based grading. Instructions for the development of proficiency scales and rubrics are included in this document. In addition, there are templates for ease of teacher use.

Flipping Your Classroom to Meet the Common Core and other Standards

This post by Julie Schnell's post from Turn to Your Neighbor Blog is from a teacher's perspective on how to use standards based instruction and evaluation in a flipped classroom. The article presents practical strategies from a teacher in the field