Getting Around

Sunday, December 16, 2012

How SBG Has Changed Assignments for Me

Standards-based grading does a lot of things, including how you see the assignments you give. My mentor and I decided to give our students a project to practice finding simple shape areas and then areas of irregular shapes. Traditionally, this sort of thing requires a teacher to design a rubric for assigning points to the final product, which then goes toward a grade. A student gets points based on how well he or she followed the rubric given out with the project.

But wait, what if you don't want to give points to anything anymore? Make it count for a homework assignment or three (we have completion-grade-only homework)?

After talking about it, my mentor and I decided this was a great opportunity to get some mastery data for the two standards that are being practiced through the project. We've decided to use the project criteria for an acceptability judgment only. That is, if the student met the criteria, then the student may turn it in to be assessed. Then, we'll use the student's work to determine if they've mastered the standards contained in the project. There will be no points other than a scale score for each standard.

Deep breath.

I just know that some students are going to not do it if they figure out there aren't points involved. I've been switching to standards-based grading on the sly, so some of them haven't caught on yet. Others will do it, but not put in any creative energy because that creativity won't be graded. Others will want to know exactly how they can get an A on the project, even though most of them realize I don't give them letter grades any more on big stuff.

So, the kids who don't do the project will get dinged on their homework grade, which still is based on points because that's departmental policy. In the grade book I have to work the numbers a bit to reflect how many standards a kid has mastered, but that's doable.

Homework is a gray area for me because of our school policies, but I feel really good about using a project as an additional data point for standards mastery. Up until now, only quizzes and tests went into a mastery score. I'll be able to write comments all over their work and really know where some kids might be struggling.

I'm also happy that I can use a standard, general rubric for everything. Creating one for every project sort of sucked the joy out of it for me and possibly the students. Eventually we'll create some specific ones that address what mastery looks like for each standard. So far though, it's been fine to use a general one.

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