The Story Thus Far

How’d I get here?

I’d read about Standards-Based Grading (“SBG”) during my graduate studies, but it wasn’t more than an aside in some pedagogy textbook. Or perhaps it was a tangent conversation in one of my classes? Either way, I’d not given it much thought then, and the concept had mostly fluttered away once I began my first semester teaching. I likely would not have revisited the topic were it not for an epic twitter debate. After watching experts swat away arguments for traditional grading systems one-after-another, I decided to research SBG more.

To put it bluntly, I was blown away. I was soon convinced that this was the way to go. Rick Wormeli was especially convincing (again, and again), and he’s been one of many that have transformed my thinking on grading, assessment, and mastery. I’ve actually begun to feel distraught over my current grading practices! Making such a huge change mid-stride is, frankly, a terrible idea, so I set a goal for myself: to spend the spring 2014 semester researching and developing my own flavor of SBG to implement for the 2014-2015 school year.

Where am I at?

Research, research, research. I’ve just finished Fair Isn’t Always Equal by Rick Wormeli. I’ve begun reading Robert Marzano’s Formative Assessment & Standards-Based Grading. I’ve also been pouring over blogs such as Frank Nochese’s Action-Reaction, Kelly O’Shea’s Physics! Blog!and Dan Meyer’s dy/dan. I’m not focusing too much on the specifics of how I want to implement SBG; rather, I’m absorbing and taking notes.

Currently, my notes are divided up as follows:

  • Instruments to develop
  • Procedures to develop
  • Converting SBG to traditional 100-point scale (my county utilizes a traditional scale, so I’ve got to convert to it at the end of the day)
  • Assessments in SBG/Assessment writing
  • Writing standards
  • Summative assessments
  • FAQ/Common concerns (questions I know I’ll have to answer to administrators, parents, and students.)
  • Resources to check out

Despite me not focusing on it, my thoughts have started to form around the specifics of how I think I could best implement an SBG system. I’ll sometimes be on the brink of sleep when I suddenly have a new idea that sets my mind racing. It’s as exciting as it is annoying!

Where am I going?

My goal is to have a full implementation plan by the middle of this summer. I think that it’s critical for me to have the support of my department and administration going into the new school year should parents and students resist. Not only do I need their support, but I also need their guidance. I am incredibly lucky to have them, and I value their advice. I also plan to submit something to the twittersphere/blogosphere to (hopefully) get some feedback. I’m still in research mode, but I anticipate being in production mode come the end of February.

The journey towards SBG implementation thus far has been enlightening. I’m glad to have found it early on before I’d become too established in my ways. My thoughts on the true purpose of grading and assessment have been turned upside down and inside out, and it’s been awesome.

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