This post as been changed from the date I originally posted it (5/11). There are minor changes in the body. The major changes to move the conversation forward are in blue (5/14)
I have been piloting Standards Based Grading (SBG) for the last quarter of the school year. I am 5 weeks into the quarter. I just sent home progress reports to parents using a SBG
progress achievement report that I created (I am still waiting to get feedback from parents). After 5 weeks I have been able to do a lot of thinking and reflecting on the process. I have not blogged about this as much as I hope, but I now feel that I have enough for a substantial post. I have been wrestling with how to determine final grades for the class, hence the nature and title of this post.
The Current Plan
Before piloting the program and informing parents we came up with a grade conversion chart. This makes the conversion easy for parents to understand, but I fear it still leaves too much focus on a number instead of learning. Here is what we are using
|Well Below Proficiency||1||70|
Through Canvas we do use the Learning Mastery Gradebook, but I am not satisfied with its presentation and user-ability. With this current conversion I feel that I might as well give the corresponding traditional grade instead of the standards based grade for each standard (this is how it is report in PowerSchool). I do not think that this was a major error as I am the first person, to my knowledge, in my school to try SBG. This conversion is easy for parents to understand and is slowing pushing everyone, students and parents, toward learning and understanding instead of a grade. We have taken a step in the right direction and need to receive any push back from parents after they were informed on the pilot. The progress report that I set home help to push both parents and students to focus on learning rather than a grade. The student responses overall for positive (more to come) and I am still waiting to hear from parents. This is what the progress report that I sent home to parents looked like. You can see each standard as filling up a bar to the level 3 (proficiency) and when students are excelling in areas.
Problems with the Current System
- A student can be proficient in all areas (they can do all of the work on their own), yet the receive a 90, or a B+ (we are on a 7 pt scale). I am still unsure about how I feel about this. Part of me thinks that if a student is proficient in all areas that they should earn an A in the class. Now it might not equate to the highest A, but an A nonetheless.
- A student can pass the course without being proficient in the majority of the concepts. It still comes down to a number grade. The lowest grade (traditional) a student can earn is a 60. A students passes with 70, which means if a student is well below proficiency on all standards that they scrap by and pass. Is this really benefiting the students to pass them along when they have clearly not mastered any of the concepts.
- The current conversion is very hard to fail and very hard to make an A. I do feel that there needs to be some adjustment or change.
A quick and fairly easy solution would be to change the conversion. Say from a 10 point scale to a 20 point scale. However, this means that student who is proficient in the concept will earn an 80 or a C for that standard. This hear I think is an immediate problem.* As of 5/14 this is no longer a solution! This is from the feedback, comments, and conversations started on the original blog post.
- We also considered using a 7 point scale to match with GPA. This has some potential, but again I feel that this method would pass students along.
- Use a conversion that does not involve even increments. For example
- 4 = 100
- 3 = 93 (lowest A),
- 2 = 75 (lowest C)
- 1 = 61 (minimum low)
- Base the letter grade from the number or percentage of 1s, 2s, 3s, and 4s. This is what I am leaning towards, but I am looking for a lot of feedback and advice on this as well. My school reports grades out of 100 and we need to differentiate between an A = 100 and A = 93. Here are some current ideas.
- A = 93+ All 3s, each 4 is 1 additional pt up to 100
- A =93 – All 3s, no 2s
- B = 90 – 90% 3s/4s no more than 10% 2s, no 1s
- B = 85 – 80% 3s/4s, no more than 20% 2s, no 1s
- C = 80 – 70% 3s/4s, no more than 10% 1s
- D = 75 – 60% 3s/4s, no more than 20% 1s
- D = 70 – 50% 3s/4s, no more than 25% 1s
After hearing from many people and having conversations about calculating a final grade using SBG I have decided that option 4 is the best method for my classroom and my pilot. This option needs fine tuning and to help lead another conversation is a table of different ways to accomplish the idea behind option 4. Please understand that there is no correct or definitive way and that the purpose of this table is to encourage more conversation. I am adding my original idea (which will change soon) as well as recommendations from Ken O’Connor and Megan Moran (with their permission). Again these ideas are designed to start a conversation. Ken’s recommendation is specific for what I have listed in my room.
|Original Idea||Ken O’Connor||Meghan Moran|
|A +||93+ All 3s, each 4 addition 1 pt||1 additional point up to 100 for each 4 in addition to requirement for A||Ratio of 3s/4s, no 2s|
|A (93)||All 3s, no 2s||at least 1/2 standards 4, rest 3, no 2’s||Ratio of 3s/4s, no 2s|
|90% 3s/4s, no 1s||mostly 3’s, mix of 3’s and 4’s, no 2’s||80% 3s/4s no 1s|
|B (85)||80% 3s/4s, no 1s||mostly 3’s, no more than 20% 2’s, no 1’s|
|70% 3s/4s, no more than 10% 1s||at least 50% 3 or higher, rest 2’s, no 1’s||70% 3s/4s, no 1s|
|60% 3s/4s, no more tan 20% 1s||at least 75% 2 or higher||60% 3s/4s, no more than 20% 1s|
|50% 3s/4s, no more than 25% 1s||at least 50% 2 or higher|
As of know I am leaning toward idea 4, but I know it needs some work and fine tuning. These are all just thoughts and my goal is to start a conversation. I plan to continually update this post in installments to show the progress. Please comment or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.