Friday, August 8, 2014

My Plunge into Standards Based Grading

Cody Hough // Wikipedia

After short-lived flirtations, I'm plunging into the Standards Based Grading (SBG) pool. Of all the recent changes to my course, SBG requires the biggest paradigm shift. Like many other updates to my biology course, my entry point was the flipped class - another testament to the benefits of flipped instruction.

What is SBG?
For those who are unfamiliar with standards based grading, this video should offer a good summary contrasting it with the traditional model of Assessment-Based Grading.

How am I approaching SBG in year one?
First, I've identified the standards. For each unit, I listed each learning objective and rephrased them as "I can" statements. (Thanks to @mrsebiology for the inspiration.) I've redesigned each unit as mastery learning cycles centered around these standards. I plan to acknowledge four levels of progress for each standard - does not meet (no evidence), approaching (explaining), meeting (applying) and exceeding (mastery.) 

First draft sample of a few genetics objectives
Second, I've tailored the learning materials (videos, readings, labs, etc) to the standards. This was an eye opening process because several materials that I've used in the past did not meet a specific standard; I was forced to delete these materials. The other important revelation was that some activities required too much effort in return for how they aligned with the standards. For example, if I identified a lab that took several days to complete but barely addressed one standard, I either modified it or chose an alternative. I forced myself to prioritize the "need to know" content and skills over the "nice to know" material. 

Third, I strategically designed assessments to align to the standards. Every quiz, lab or test question will be intentionally designed or modified to address the standards. Again, very eye opening process. I'm especially excited about this change because I will be able to generate informative data about each student. No longer will a student or parent see a vague "88%" on a report. The 88% could hide that this student struggled mightily on one topic, while excelling at the other topics. Instead of quoting numbers, I will be able to state the exact nature of the areas of strengths and weaknesses.  

I have a lot to learn and so glad that I have a wonderful group of teachers in my PLN.

So far I've found been using the following SBG resources:
I would love it if you can reply with your own list of Standards Based Grading resources.