Starting those tough conversations…

I had the wonderful opportunity to listen to Mr. Rick Wormeli (@RickWormeli) yesterday via a webinar on Standards Based Assessment and Grading. I found myself agreeing with everything he was saying, and it was a great reminder of why I am standards based in my classroom. I then realized my next step…

My take-away from today was that I need to start having tough conversations with some of my colleagues and administrators regarding grading. I don’t want to be overbearing or pushy, but this reform needs to happen. We need to refocus our classrooms and schools on learning rather than grades. I feel the ‘moral imperative’ as Mr. Wormeli puts it to facilitate change and progress in this regard. It begins with discussions of purpose surrounding grading as well as beliefs behind grading practices.

Mr. Wormeli said that 80 percent of the switch is a shift in mindset, while the other 20 percent is the nuts and bolts of implementing Standards Based Grading. This is huge. The paradigm shift to standards based learning and grading is of utmost importance. Helping others understand why our grading system could improve in accuracy and integrity is something I hope to do.  We cannot let implementation stand in the way of grading and assessment reform. There are so many ways to manipulate or support grade book programs, inform stakeholders, and even report things like letter grades when we are mandated to do so.

Paradigm shifts take time – this may be part of why I feel so strongly about starting conversations. I do not expect anyone to just change their thinking and be ready for standards based culture instantaneously. But if we don’t start talking about it, nothing will happen.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Wormeli speak. Grades get falsified in so many ways, and this needs to stop. We must begin some of these difficult conversations now in order to move forward together. The purpose of grading and beliefs behind practice need to be worked out and decided upon together so we can make the shift to healthier grading for our students.

4 thoughts on “Starting those tough conversations…

  1. We at the same place you are. We need to start having those serious and uncomfortable conversations, soon. Fortunately, I have been doing that with one of the teachers I work with who is interested in changing his tests to better fit what he’s supposed to be teaching by using a 4-point scale. At least, it’s a start.

  2. This idea of most of the change being a shift in mindset really hit home with me last night.
    My wife is just started a long-term sub gig in a 2nd grade classroom. The school she’s working in thinks it’s doing SBG, but they are using a 1-4 scale for each performance standard and entering it into the gradebook by event, not standard, then averaging the events to get a final grade.

    Of course, this totally negates the purpose of SBG/SBL since students who show continuous improvement to eventual mastery will always end up showing about a 2. But the teachers and administrators have been doing school one way for so long that even when they try to change the old habits, not the philosophy, end up dictating the practice, if not the policy.

  3. Anytime we wish to initiate change the conversations are difficult. These are necessary first steps, though, to begin the shift toward a new way of thinking. When we share the logic of the better way and our successes with it, others will begin to shift. Slowly, but surely. Wishing you luck as you embark on this!

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