My Future Implementation Standards Based Grading in History

My district is implementing Standards Based Grading (SBG) for the upcoming school year (2018-2019). Before you read further, let me state that I’m completely on board with this initiative. I can say from my own class that grades mean nothing and don’t present an accurate picture of student learning. The other reason I’m on board is I love challenges and changes.  Through the years I have learned to embrace these words to help me become a better teacher. With my lack of knowledge of SBG, I had no choice but to begin reading and researching.

The first book I got was, Formative Assessment and Standards Based Grading, by Dr. Robert Marzano. This book didn’t look exciting, but I read it in 3 days! That’s a new personal record for me. The research, scales, standards, and tracking were so interesting and gave me a framework to begin preparing the Social Studies department for SBG. 

Eager and excited, I began to separate out, and combine, standards for 8th grade history for my units. I then broke apart my combined standards into learning goals for the unit. For each learning goal, I linked a performance scale using 0 – 4. Here is my example – click here. This is still a work in progress!

I don’t know how this will affect student learning, and I don’t know if I’m doing this correctly (Comments/Criticism are appreciated).  But what I can tell you from this experience is:

  1. This forces me to know my standards. – Yes, every teacher should know their standards, but this forced me to understand the standards on a new level. I had to dig in deep and find connections between the History, Government, and Geography standards so I could combine them, write learning goals, and design scales for each goal.
  2. This forces me to use meaningful assignments and assessments – This process has me thinking more and more about using meaningful assessments. In order to give an accurate reflection of student learning, the assessments must align to the standards and criteria listed in the scales. Busy work is gone (Although I try to avoid this at all costs). Randomly changing assignments at the last second because I found something way cooler is gone too. 
  3. This forces me to collaborate more with colleagues – I’ll admit it, I’m quiet and tend to keep to myself. But, I’m learning, and getting better, with sharing (It’s an only child thing). In order to get an accurate reflection of student learning, the standards and scales must be the same for disciplines. Collaborating, communicating, and consistency are a MUST!! 

This post is far from finished, as thoughts come to me I will cycle back to it and update. As I’m implementing this new system through the school year, I will have updates on student progress. 

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