Overall I’m very pleased with the way my 1st quarter of Standards Based Grading has gone. This last week has been the first time all year that I’ve now been getting some questions and having some problems with SBG, both with students and parents. I don’t think it is a coincidence that this week is when 1st quarter grades were due. Students and parents have been so trained to focus on one simple letter to summarize an entire 9 weeks of learning. Looking at multiple pieces of data and really analyzing where and why they are “getting it” or “struggling” is going to be a tough battle.
I thought about getting away with not assigning a letter grade at all, but I knew if I did that all heck would break loose. So I went to my original formula I had come up with before the school year. That formula looked something like this:
My idea here was that my “Core” goals would be worth 60%, “Intermediate” goals worth 30%, and “Advanced” goals 10%. This would basically mean that in order to pass physics you would need to master AT LEAST all of the core goals. Seems reasonable right? The problem I ran into as I started looking at all the data is that some of the core goals were actually tougher to master than my intermediate goals. I might have to do some reconsidering of each goals level, or something. Not sure about that yet. As I calculated letter grades based on this scale I had students with Fs and Ds that had not yet mastered some of the core goals, but did have success with some of the Intermediate and Advanced.
Anyways, what I started to consider was the argument about how an F on a traditional scale is disproportionate with the rest of the grade levels. So I made the following adjustments to my formula:
The way this works is the even if you don’t master a single goal in my class you will have a 50% on a percentage scale which is obviously still an F. I still wanted to put more weight on the core goals and less on the advanced. So this seemed to have solved the problem. As I analyzed the percentages based on this formula it seemed to me to pass the “eye test.” What I mean by that is that if I was able to subjectively give letter grades this formula better matched letters grades to what I thought students should have earned.
I’m sure this isn’t the perfect system, and ideally we could avoid the dreaded letter grades all together, but I just don’t see a way around that right now. I wanted to have a system that could be backed up by the data, and some way I could justify a student’s grade. For now this seems to have done the trick, however parents haven’t received Report Cards in the mail yet. I might have to edit this post next week…