I understand this is purely anecdotal, but it gives me a “snapshot” of the culture Standards Based Grading (or Learning Goals Grading as I term it to students) has created in my classroom.
At the end of the semester I asked my students to voluntarily participate in an anonymous survey about their thoughts and feelings towards SBG in my chemistry and physics classes. I ended up with 34 responses to the survey. About 55% participation. Would have I liked more? Sure, but what was I going to do take points off? He is what my students are telling me.
I really like the fact the students understand the system. It is something totally new to them. No body else in my school uses this…yet. So, at least I’ve done a good job being clear in my expectations and what how they are being assessed and evaluated.
This is HUGE. Obviously, the point of SBG is to help students LEARN. I also realize that the students in my classes don’t have any other chemistry or physics classes to compare their learning to, just what they have experienced in other traditional grading classes. Maybe it’s just the amazing teacher at work! 🙂
I’ve implemented a color system for assessment feedback to avoid using a number based system at all. I like it, the students seem to like/understand it, and again, they feel it helps them. One comment I got about this revolves around having a more quantitative way to separate simple vs. more complex mistakes. Since the only thing that really counts is if you get a green (mastery) or not, I’m going to be a little more liberal in giving our reds this semester to distinguish levels of misunderstanding.
I think the results speak for themselves. Of course you are going to have a couple of students that don’t like anything I do, but when the vast majority of results are coming back neutral or positive I can’t complain. It also tells me that even if the system isn’t “working” to perfection and creating a perfect learning environment, it isn’t hurting anything. I don’t see any reason to change what I’m doing, just a few minor tweaks here and there.
The last two questions were open ended, as you can see. Google doesn’t display these results in a real user friendly format, but you can look through the comments if you wish.
The overall themes I get from the strengths question has to do with the ability for the students to know exactly where the stand on particular goals, and what they need to focus on improving on. Along those same lines many students appreciate the continued opportunities to show improvement and ACTUALLY UNDERSTAND the subject. Not just do enough to get by and move on. That sounds like a win to me!
I took one big theme away from these comments. Students don’t like the fact they don’t have a single letter grade at any given moment. This doesn’t surprise me in the least. Our district has trained our students and parents to continuously monitor Skyward. When they don’t see a grade it freaks them out. The do all know they can go to ActiveGrade at anytime and see their color graph, but it’s just one place for them to go and there still isn’t a single letter. This is and will continue to be a difficult culture to break. I always say, “if you see yellow you can do better.” That doesn’t satisfy them, because they want to know what they can do to make sure they have a A, B, C, etc. Not just, “you can do better.” I don’t want to “give in” to always having a letter grade available to them, I feel that defeats the purpose of SBG.
Granted, at the end of the quarter or semester I do have to turn all the assessment data I collected throughout the grading term into a single letter grade. I do have a system to do this and have been pleased with how the letter grades get calculated. I haven’t had to “justify” any grades just yet, but when I do I will be able to look at ActiveGrade and easily cite reasons for any particular grade based on WHAT THE STUDENT UNDERSTANDS ABOUT THE SUBJECT, not “he didn’t do his homework.”