Standards based grading is something that has transformed my classroom into a true learning environment. Points have disappeared, as well as grades on formative assessment. We simply learn, practice, apply, connect, assess, rework, revise, and reassess.
This may sound wonderful, and it is a huge improvement over what I had previously done with grading, but let me be clear…this was not an easy road!
But despite the challenges of writing standards, developing scales, working with (and at times against) our computerized gradebook program there was this excitement. I felt that this new system would be a game changer for my students, and I was right.
No longer did my students and I discuss points, extra credit, homework, or the value of assignments. The conversations were centered about learning – where they were in the process, what our goals were, and how to achieve those goals. We replaced percentages, numbers, and letters with meaningful feedback for growth.
Sometimes my students struggled with the new system, having spent their elementary school years with a traditional grading program. In the beginning of the year there were a lot of questions and some push back. But when we got to the end of the year, I read my students reflections and talked with them during the last weeks of school. Things had changed! They enjoyed a year without the high stakes of grades infiltrating every assignment and assessment. They sought learning over grades, with the assurance that once you achieve the former, the latter will follow.
Why standards based grading? I believe it is imperative for the future of our children. It teaches them perseverance, responsibility, and to focus on learning. We are in this business to create lifelong learners, right? Then the time is now, we cannot wait. Our students deserve more than just a letter or a number.