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My Standard Based Grading

The Trial

After spending my Easter/Spring/Hot season break getting all enthusiastic about moving into SBG for next school year I stepped back. I suddenly thought that  I was just about to change to a new unit in my Physics classes, one final one for the year. I had a look at my list of learning objectives and it seemed it wouldn’t be too difficult to rewrite them from the student’s perspective. So then I thought why wait? I said to myself “Why don’t I have a full scale trial with all three of my Physics classes and see how it goes?” I didn’t come up with sufficient number of reasons to slow myself down so I launched ahead.

The first thing I did was to divide my learning outcomes into three groups of standards. The first group was the Essential Knowledge standards that everyone had to get to proceed. The ‘do not pass go’ standards that you had to get. Missing one of these standards was like missing them all and you would fail the unit. Since this is an Olympic Games year I called these the bronze standards.

The silver standards were the next group and these were the core skills that I wanted all students to develop, conquer and move into. I said that it was proving that you had these silver skills was what would move your grade from a C to a B+.

From my point of view I saw the gold standards as the bonus standards. For this unit on Oscillations and Waves they were standards about phenomena that I wanted my students to be able to show a physics understanding of; applications of the core skills. They had to get some of these standards to move their grade into ‘A’ territory.

Each standard was on a three point scale, (O, 1, 2) and I had this complex rubric with various cutoff points and minimum scores that I worried if the kids would ever get and I jumped into this new path. I realize that this aspect of my version of SBG will have to be a work in progress but that will have to wait.

The fact that I am updating this blog now is a sign that my experiment was a successful one and I am even happier than before about getting into SBG.

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