I need LOTS of help understanding this type of grading.
What are the Pros?
What are the Cons?
Our county has been implementing it for over a year now, but the teachers seem to be totally confused! No one seems to know "exactly" what they are supposed to be doing. They can't explain how to give the grades for each student and standard, how to assess learning properly (paper, teacher observation, task, etc...), how to explain grading to parents or students, or how to manage the grading/paperwork. Every teacher (even ones on the same grade level) uses a different way of keeping records, etc...., which is ridiculous to me.
Time is most definitely a complaint. teachers are telling me they spend more time grading and trying to figure out this grading system than they do teaching.
I am very open to change (if it is in the best interest of the students), but I would like to have everything in place first.
I am not using it on my grade level. I teach 4th grade reading/language arts (all reading skills, grammar, spelling, and writing) to 3 different classes in 1 1/2 hour blocks, so I want to have a handle on what to do when it does come to me.
Questions I have:
1. How do you manage your grades?
2. Did your county allign the standards for your grade level?
3. Are you self-contained? Is that better? (Remember I teach 3 classes for reading combined with la arts in 1 1/2 hour blocks)
4. Do you have a checklist and report card? If so, does every teacher use the same one?
5. Where (in your opinion) is a perfect standards-based classroom?
6. Where is the best place for "on the job" training? (I hate workshops because I end up using only a portion) I want to be working with actual students and teachers together.
7. Does anyone have a system in place that is easy to follow and explain?
8. Who would be the best person to email with questions?
The teaching and grading, I think, are easy. The record keeping for this, however, has most of us ready to throw ourselves off a bridge.
Our kids are leveled for math and literacy (I'm in middle school). This means we have multi-age classrooms. I'll talk about literacy, since that's what I teach: Literacy is broken into eleven measurement topics (narrative comprehension, expository comprehension, literary analysis, word study, finding and using information, then each of the six traits is its own MT, then communication). Within each MT, you have learning targets. For instance, in level 5 literacy, narrative comprehension is broken into two targets: predictions and elements of plot. For every LT, a kid needs to show three proficient pieces of evidence. Once they've shown every LT within an MT three times proficiently, they take the MT test. If they pass it, they're done with that MT. Once they pass all the MTs, they move to the next level.
In Colorado, counties don't decide anything about schools. The districts decide how they want to do it. The district, though, aligned the standards.
You have to keep your grades caught up in this program we have, so that at report card time, they just print it out in the office.
I would say my district has standards figured out better than any district in the country right now. We have people literally from all over the United States traipsing through our classrooms on a regular basis. We've been featured in several educational journals.
What's hard about it is the record-keeping. I have 100 kids, and a computer program that just sucks. We're using a program called Educate, which is being developed for us. The problem is, we're building this airplane while it's in the air. This program is so user unfriendly and takes so long that teachers are really having problems. On top of it, we use Scantron for our MT tests, and their tests are LOUSY. Last year, we discovered so many errors in the tests. They're both unreliable and invalid. They're supposedly working on it this year. To make it EVEN WORSE, these two programs don't talk to each other.
So the teachers are making it work and passing kids along, but our administration is fairly clueless and like I said, these computer programs make life miserable.
One other warning--breaking content areas into discrete skills, as we've done, is great, but caution must be exercised to avoid teaching these skills in isolation. This really, really lends itself to a packet mentality (here is your capitalization packet, here is your punctuation packet....). We've really had to get after some teachers who want to do that. The trick with standards-based is to BUNDLE your standards together. So you have them actually write--then they can hit as many as 9 standards with just one paper.
To put people on the same page, we have scoring guides too. So the MTs guide what you teach, and the scoring guides help you recognize a 1, a 2, a 3, etc.
You want the truth--my classroom is a truly close to perfect standards-based room. Kids work sometimes together as a class, sometimes individually choose which MT they're working on, sometimes work in groups...you have to be comfortable with having 100 kids go in approximately 80 different directions. You have to be comfortable with not only teaching, but facilitating instead, sometimes.
Let me know if I've been unclear on anything. Heck, come to Colorado and visit us. People do it all the time. Every person in my district will tell you that the grading isn't hard, and neither is the planning. It's the record keeping! It could choke a horse.
Last edited by maryteach; 11-13-2010 at 08:05 PM..
Thank you so much for answering me back with so much helpful information! I would love to come visit your classroom (district), and I am very serious!!! It is nice to hear some positive things---aside from the record keeping. Would you say the record keeping and grading takes a lot more of your time?
I've never been to Colorado, so it sounds like an adventure. I would like to see how you bundle all the standard together to teach them. If I can arrange to come, I want you to put me to work doing whatever you would normally do with the students.
We use Pinnacle grading, and it is supposed to be able to do both traditional and standards-based grading. I guess we will see....
Putting our teachers on the same page would be so very nice! I am told that we do have scoring guides (maybe several) , but no one seems to agree on how to use them. The teachers do their own planning, grading sheets, record keeping, etc... There is NO consistancy at all.
If someone could send you to me in Georgia (right on the GA/FL border). I would gladly give you a place to stay and give you the royal treatment if you could train some of us properly!
One more question: What educational magazine were you featured in?
I am in a smaller district, low pay, few resources. Our Admin is zealous about doing SBG and the pressure on the teacher is phenomenal. None of us really understand it, or don't know how to record the data/grades on report cards as our admin decided we'd do this 3/4 of the way through our first trimester. I teach 9 subjects, as we too have gone to core standards: Social studies (4 subjects within this standard), Science, Math, Writing, Reading, and Health. How in the WORLD are we going to be able to actually teach, when I am so busy trying to find out which kid has which standard proficient in each sub-standard? I.e math : number and numeration in Colorado has 21 sub-standards, and then trying to get each child at each standard? Seriously? That is ONE standard out of 9.