What do you use to assess your standards? (Standards Based Grading)

Throughout the week @mgarcia, @d.vendramin, and myself will be hosting a slow chat about Standards Based Grading. Look for a new question/topic each day!

To kick it off, we’d love to open the discussion about what tools you use to assess your standards. If you use rubrics, what do they look like? How are you communicating your students’ knowledge and ability to them and their parents?
Whether your school is set up as standards-based, or you are using a standards-based mindset in your classroom - we’d love to hear your thoughts!

@informed_members @Certified_Educators

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My high school is not set up for standards based grading. However, we have designed all test to have material that assess each learning objective required by the state for that course.

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@Darcey_Teasdale. I teach language arts - so TONS of writing. I use a rubric that has 4 categories - advanced, proficient, basic and below basic. We have these categories because that is how our interim assessments are designed. In addition to the rubric, I give individual feedback to the students because they will do things (good and not so good) that are not on the rubric.

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@Christina_Shepherd How do you share with the students/parents about how they are doing with regards to each objective?

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@Rachel_Kerr I love that you provide additional feedback for your students!
How are you doing that right now? Is there space on your rubric to share this with them? 1-on-1 Conference, through email?

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@Darcey_Teasdale Our grades are set up the typical percent scale 90-100=A, and so on. The parents see what their child is missing, how they scored on all their assignments, and their percentage. We do not have a way to inform parents of how their kiddo is doing on specific learning standards. However, our tests are designed to assess all the standards required by the course. Most schools in our area are set up this way. We do have one high school in the area that uses standards based grading (rubric with a scale of 0-4) along with the percentage.

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@Darcey_Teasdale. I am a virtual teacher, so I don’t see my students. My feedback is through their system. Some of it is written, and some of it is oral ( we have a recording feature).

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Hi, everyone, especially @mgarcia, @Darcey_Teasdale, and @d.vendramin! Like @Rachel_Kerr, I teach ELA. I use skills-based rubrics that correspond to our standards, but I don’t actually put the standards on the rubric. My students tend to find that overwhelming. Instead, I try to use the same language on the rubric that I used when the kids and I practiced the skill. That seems to help my students understand their grades more clearly.

Also–and this is a purely personal quirk–I don’t use levels on my rubrics. When I tried levels my first year, I discovered that a) leveled rubrics take a long time for me to write, and b) my less academically-motivated students (of whom there are many, alas) were tending to aim for the level in the middle. Some of them told me: “This is what ‘competent’ is? Competent is good enough.” So now I write a clear description of what an “A” paper looks like, then give points and feedback for each separate skill. Have any of you had similar experiences with leveled rubrics? How did you solve the problem?

I’m attaching the final exam essay rubric that I’ll use in a couple of weeks. I would love some feedback if any of you have time! How can I improve or re-imagine this?

Thanks!
Claire

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I also have students with a similar mentality - what is the minimum amount of effort I need to put in, that will get the grade I need to keep playing sports and keep my parents happy.
I’ve been considering moving all of my rubrics to a similar format as yours. Thanks for sharing!
One thing I am toying with is having a separate column for praise/positive comments, and another for specific areas they need to work on.

Do you ever have any students that dispute how many points are taken off for each standards. (For example if you gave them a 3/5 do any argue about why they didn’t get a 4 since there aren’t descriptors for each number they could earn?)
Have there been any challenges or disputes with this style of rubric that I should be prepared for/address at the beginning of the year with parents and students?

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That’s a good idea!

I try to be very clear in the comments section for each skill. Usually, my comments have three parts: 1) something good the writer did, 2) the reasons I took off points, and 3) how to revise to earn those points back (or how to avoid the same weakness in the future). That cuts down on arguments and also encourages the kids to revise.

I’ve found one noticeable disadvantage to writing rubrics this way. Because this style of rubric only lays out the basic requirements for a paper that meets the standards/earns full credit, it doesn’t leave much room to spur and reward truly outstanding work. Anything I put in the rubric automatically becomes something I’m expecting from all my students, so I have to keep the expectations manageable. That’s the trade-off: although students can’t decide to aim for merely competent, they also can’t see and decide to go for “Wow, this is an amazing paper!” Right now, I’m comfortable with that trade-off because most of my students struggle to write essays. The basic expectations to meet the standards are what they need to see, and I’m thrilled when they get the basics down. If I work with more skilled and motivated writers next year, I may decide to switch back to to leveled rubrics. (Or maybe I’ll just change my definition of “the basics.” Hmmm.)

Does that help?

Claire

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@clairesedoyle I do put the standards in, but I use more “kid friendly” language for a couple of reasons. First, the students can understand what is being learned. Second, the parents can understand the standards. I find that most parents who are against standard-based learning don’t understand the jargon. Once they can understand it, they are much more receptive to the lessons and skills. That, in turn, helps me to support the students because I have parents on “my side.”

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That makes good sense, @Rachel_Kerr! I will think about adding and translating standards next year. Thanks for the idea.

Do you meet lots of parents who are against standards-based teaching/learning/grading? I haven’t met any in my current community, though I know many who are against standardized multiple-choice testing (testing is a different problem, I think). In your experience, what are the parents’ objections? What jargon do they have particular trouble with? I am curious to hear more, when you have time to share.

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I also am in the rubric “camp”. Basically everything is graded on a rubric that is tied to the standards, but as @clairesedoyle mentions, I translate those standards to more student-friendly language. When I give them out to students they are leveled as novice, apprentice, master, expert, but the actual rubric that is given back graded uses 1-4. In previous years I used ForAllRubrics to distribute the graded rubrics, but after running into some issues with the platform, this year I switched over to Alice Keeler’s Rubrictab, which uses Google spreadsheets and automatically compiles and e-mails them out. Comments are usually included pointing out more specific areas of improvement.

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We use proficiency scales. Levels 1-4 We have a scale for each standard

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Does anyone one ever find that a rubric can be limiting? Like I’ve met that criteria I can stop now as opposed to I’m going to go beyond expectations. Is this even possible?

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I have been pleasantly surprised by the students who go way beyond the requirements - icing a cake to look like a map vs making on with pen and paper, students who dress up for their presentation and teach the class to write some words in an ancient language - even though they know there is no extra credit for going beyond the rubric, coding an avatar to present information vs just typing some responses and submitting that on google classroom.

Not all students do this - but I think when we get our students genuinely excited about the content we are teaching they may surprise us and go beyond what we may have originally imagined they could or would do (even without being rewarded with a grade)

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@clairesedoyle I do because I live in Wyoming. But the reasons they don’t like them is because they don’t understand them. They see it as government intrusion. But when I ask a parent a question about a standard, not say it is a standard and put it in everyday language, then they are supportive. It is all on the “sell” of it. It isn’t government intrusion - it is preparing your student to be successful in high school and beyond (I teach middle school).

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This year has been my first year utilizing a standards based grading system in my high school geometry class. Every school in my district currently uses a traditional grading system with the exception of our Pre-K and Kindergarten school. With the support of our administration, my geometry PLC decided to use the standards based approach in our classes. We decided to use a 10 point concept system so that it would not be so different from what students and parents were used to seeing in the grade book.

We did not use rubrics to assess this year. We assigned points to each problem on our assessments and then determined how many points each student should earn to be at each level on our grading system. We then translated this into scales as you can see below.

Now that we have a little experience with standards based grading and have a better understanding of how exactly we want it to work in our classrooms, we are in the process of creating proficiency scales for each concept/standard so that we are doing a better job of explicitly explaining to students and parents what is expected at each level of learning.

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Yes, I have seen this. One way that I’ve used to overcome it is setting the requirements as a 3 (Master) and having the 4 (Expert) for those that go above and beyond. In my gamified environment this works well since they are accumulating points to level up. When I translate to grades, the Master requirements add up to 100% so those that decided to stay there were evaluated on mastery of the standard but those that went above and beyond moved up more quickly in ranks which earns them privileges.

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Do you provide exemplars to see what each level looks like or just the criteria? Do the students know what above and beyond looks like? Thanks for sharing!

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