Standards-based, mastery-based, and competency-based learning all have the same end goal in mind: healthy assessment and grading practices which result in students mastering a set of standards or skills to the greatest degree possible.
We recently asked Lee Ann Jung to facilitate a webinar called, “My parents don’t like standards-based grading. Now what?”. During this 60 minute session, she shared her experiences with SBG and the best path toward getting buy-in from students, parents, and faculty.
Ten things we learned from Lee Ann
#1: The purpose of assessment on a day-to-day basis is not to generate a grade or to accurately communicate where a student is. It’s to inform our instruction.
#2: Schools who’ve successfully implemented a standards-based grading initiative start with getting everyone, parents, and teachers, on board with the purpose of assessment. Think of this as your Northstar for the initiative.
#3: When the purpose of assessment, both formal and informal, is to inform instruction… the goal is to ensure that all students get to mastery. Measure what matters and realize grades are no longer about sorting and classifying kids.
#4: The heavy lifting of making the move to standards-based grading is building a culture of healthy assessment with the students, families, and faculty. When that comes first, the change in the report card is compelled. Start with the why and work back to what.
#5: Invite families early on into the conversation about the school culture, who we are as a school, what we value for students, and how these types of assessment practices support all students getting to mastery.
#6: For standards-based learning to be successful, confidence and competence are crucial. We must be ready to lead conversations. Can all faculty at your school lead a conversation with families on mastery, grade inflation, percentages, averaging, and rubrics?
#7: What will colleges and universities think about standards-based grading? They’re already getting all kinds of transcripts. There are applicants from all over the world, homeschool transcripts, Montessori transcripts, and they have their ways of making sense of all kinds of grades.
#8: The Hanover Research Council report states that “Generally, admissions offices treat all grades as welcome indicators of high school performance while implicitly acknowledging that every school has a unique perspective, student body, and system.” None of the college admissions offices contacted expressed a concern or a negative view of a transcript based on standards-based grading.
#9: Admission offices recalculate GPA based on school profile and student data. They also have algorithms in place that take into consideration student performance at their high schools and how historically other students from that school performed their freshman year at that university. They know how difficult classes are at your school.
#10: You are not alone: Many schools are encountering obstacles in way of the various initiatives they’re implementing
Technology is a Tool
At Otus, we believe that for any initiative to be successful, it begins at the human level. Technology is simply a tool and it’s only as good as the person using it. Note- there’s no mention of technology throughout our key takeaways from Lee Ann’s webinar on standards-based grading.
Rather, she emphasizes starting with creating a culture of learning, the confidence and competence of faculty, and creating community buy-in. Once those conditions are in place, it’s time to consider a platform to enhance teachers’ ability to use student data to inform their teaching.
Otus is designed for K-12 school systems who use traditional, standards-based, or “transitional” grading. We are unique in that we help ensure that parents and families also have the tools necessary to understand this shift in teaching and learning.
We are inspired by the work of Lisa Westman, Lee Ann Jung, Rick Wormeli, Tom Guskey, our courageous clients and their students, and parents who are struggling to understand this “new” way of grading. If this article resonates with you, schedule a 30-minute demonstration of Otus. You can also follow us on Twitter or join our Modern Measures learning community on Facebook.