I am moving towards introducing standards based grading for my HS Physics class next school year (2012-2013). Standards based grading (SBG) is something I have been partially aware of for a while and been thinking of introducing it ever since I heard about it.
I thought I would try and put down in writing why SBG resonates with me.
- I dislike ‘busy work’. By busy work I mean any seat work / home work such as doing worksheets, problems from the textbooks etc whenever the students don’t have a ready answer as to why they are doing it. I have too many bad memories from my own past (even though it is a lot further in the past for me than for many others) where I had no sense of reason why I was doing the particular exercise other than keeping myself out of mischief with the particular teacher. I was often consumed by the mechanics of getting the work over and done as soon as I could, finding short cuts and other things to think about while I was doing the stuff. I think it was because the mechanics of doing this sort of work so pained me that it took me ~30 years after graduating HS to venture back into the HS classroom.
- I have a deep feeling of injustice against the one and done testing regimes that is found in many classrooms. Don’t get me wrong, I teach AP Physics and I have a great deal of respect for an externally assessed exam following a curriculum that was put together by educators that have much greater experience in both the subject and education than the average teacher in the classroom. I think this sort of high stakes summative assessment has a very important place in a learner’s educational experience. But that place is where the group size numbers in the thousands. In the average classroom there must be greater discernment, a greater allowance for difference. The possibility of failing and falling forward and picking yourself up figuring out what went wrong and what you can do about it.
- Finally (for this blog anyway) I think we need to take the concept of multiple intelligences ever more seriously – not only for learning but also for assessment. Too many times I have got the feeling that my written test is not really assessing my stated content (my carefully crafted learning outcomes) but its assessing the ability of my students to ‘game’ a particular type of test. Not only do I have to give my students lots of different ways to construct their learning they must be given multiple ways to demonstrate their learning.
The Racing Tortoise