It is better to walk alone, than with a crowd going in the wrong direction. – Diane Grant
I wanted to share a story in this post about a journey with grading reform. Too many educators feel like they are on an island in this push and look anywhere possible for support and guidance. If that’s you, hopefully this will support your mission!
Jason’s story begins several years ago. As a mid-career educator he was fed up with traditional grading practices that took his students’ focus away from the learning that was going on in his classroom. He was sick and tired of the time lost discussing points, grades, and weighting of assignments and assessments. There had to be another answer…
Here arrives standards based learning and grading. After researching the practice throughout a school year, the following summer was spent talking about standards, behavioral grading, motivation and in turn making decisions about implementation – implementation in a traditional setting with limited support. Implementation with one other colleague on board, with the remainder of the 200 staff members maintaining traditional grading practices. It was not necessarily that the majority of co-workers disagreed with the shift (although some continue that mindset to this day), rather most had never reflected on their approach to grading in this manner and didn’t know anything different. To them, the change seemed too daunting to undertake.
This was and continues to be a tough journey. Going it alone takes courage, perseverance, and grit. Jason has transformed his environment into a culture of learning where all students know they can succeed, understand that learning is a messy process, and aren’t afraid to fail along their journey to proficiency. It was an honor to work with him and together we continue to envision how reforming grading practices positively impacts student learning. As he continues to refine his methods, students will benefit for years to come.
Jason is currently a high school social studies teacher. You can connect with him via Twitter, @j_ozbolt.