Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thoughts Without Words: Standards Based Grading

So I have been reading more and more into this idea of Standards Based grading. Basically instead of giving a chapter test covering 4 to 5 standards with 20 some questions, you give a small one standard test with 5-6 questions. Sounds good. But the part I don't like is the idea of allowing students to re-test if they don't pass the test. In other words, all the students are moving at their own pace. In theory they can keep re-testing forever.

I had a long discussion on another blog a few weeks ago discussing this topic. I don't like re-testing because I feel like we should prepare students for life outside of school where mistakes aren't allowed in most cases. These teachers don't buy the "real world" argument and I honestly believe it's because they haven't had any real world experience. I worked at UPS for 5 years and mistakes weren't tolerated and if you couldn't do the job right you were let go as soon as a replacement was found. Sometimes you were let go before a replacement was found.

I also was wondering how this was accomplished in this day and age of state testing. How did test scores look compared to a regular classroom. I feel like students will be more apt to make careless mistakes because they are used to getting a second chance. But on state tests, there is no second chance. The person I talked to said his school doesn't have any state tests to worry about.

I also questioned him on how this would be possible with 180 students (thanks California) and he mentioned that he has very small class sizes of 20-25.

You can read more about the discussion I had on standards based grading HERE at Meta Musings.

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teacherblogger411 said...

I have no problem with standards-based testing. In fact, I think it makes great sense.
But, allowing students to re-test until they pass could be the downfall of Western Civilization. Think about it. When someone takes an HIV test and it comes back positive, do they get to re-test? What are we teaching young people about accountability in the real world if we allow them no opportunity to fail? Some of the most successful people in history failed long before they succeeded!

Mr. W said...

Standards based tests are nice, but they don't really measure anything. There is no buy in for the students to do well on them. Until the state/school districts tie the test results to the student somehow, the test scores will be invalid on some level.

Anonymous said...

"Tests" in Standards-Based Grading classes aren't the same as in your class. They are formative (learning tools), and as such, it makes sense for students to be able to retake. Your tests are summative, which is why retaking seems ridiculous to you. I can't speak for other SBG teachers, but summative tests (midterm, final exam) are included in my course, and students CANNOT retake those. But in my experience they tend to do much better on those under SBG, because they are able to master the standards all along.

With SBG, not only do you know exactly what students don't understand, but the students do as well. If all you can offer is "learn it somehow before the final," then how can they know what they need to do? They don't know what they don't know!

I think our primary goal as teachers should be to help our kids learn. Making students reflective on their own learning, weaknesses and strengths is as important a real-world skill as any.