Monday, February 16, 2015

Transitioning to Standards Based Grading: The Evaluation

I am currently on a journey with my teaching partner to transition our Grade 7 Math and Science classroom into a Standards Based Grading (SBG) classroom. We are the only ones in our Middle School program doing it, so I have been very grateful for the ideas and feedback from others through the #SBLchat on twitter, online conferences and other teachers blogs.

This post is my reflection prior to handing back the first standards based written evaluation (test) to our students and their parents. So far, I am feeling pretty good. 

Due to the recommendations of others, at the start of the unit we handed the students out the list of the three standards that we were exploring as well as the success criteria for each. Since I am in Ontario, our success criteria was identified to be one clearly stated expectation for each of the categories (Knowledge, Application, Thinking and Communication). This way we ensured that each standard had a balance between the categories. 

Students, with the standards in hand, didn't really get too excited. I however told them how excited I was... and they gave me a round of applause for my enthusiasm. Needless to say, that by presenting them with the standards at the start made no difference than in the past unit. So we continued on, completing activities in class, formative quizzes, challenge by choice stations and weekly homework. Each weekly quiz had a standard at the top so the students could gauge their development and understanding. The one difference that did occur was when the written evaluation time was decided, the students were not asking "Miss, what is on the test?". They all were aware of the standards as it was identified in each assignment, activity and homework problem that they did. 

Prior to the evaluation the students did a reflection identifying how they felt about their understanding for each standard (Working on, Proficient and Mastered) and they created their own review based on their reflection. The students appeared fairly confident and not stressed. 
As for me, I was very happy. Since having created the standards and how clear they were for the students, they were also clear to me. Instead of having "Fractions" be the title of the evaluation where before I would have been stressed to create an evaluation that was challenging, reflected the standards, but also would allow the students to show their understanding, having the standards, the creation of the evaluation was easier. I knew exactly what kinds of understanding I was needing to look for. Since there were no "marks" for each question, I could have standards appear in multiple questions, allowing me to see the understanding of my students thinking in diverse problems. At the end I was not trying to determine the "weight" of each question based on the marks out of the total, but now I could create an evaluation that focused on the student showing understanding.

Now that the evaluation has been written, the next part is if the students and parents will understand the feedback. One challenge has been that we don't use percentages, but instead use levels where 3 is meeting the expectations. Parents, struggling to understand how they child is doing, try every which way to convert the level into a percentage, which they understand since it reflects their upbringing. Our the evaluation we have given a level, but also shown where that level came from. This is done through a table at the back outlining the success criteria under each category that the students were provided at the start of the unit. Parents now will be able to see what specific idea/skill/method of explanation their child is working on/proficient/mastered. 
Our next step is for the students to complete a reflection upon the return of the evaluation, emailing home this reflection, and then going through the evaluation with their family. We are then asking parents to give us feedback to say if they have a better understanding of their child's understanding and next steps. Hopefully this feedback (in an anonymous survey) will help us identify our next steps for supporting our students and parents to transition into, what we are hoping will be, a growth mindset evaluation process.

Next post will be looking at the parent feedback. I have also been testing out the FreshGrade mark book software and I will also be sharing my thoughts on it.

After reading this, if you have any ideas or recommendations for me, please comment them below. This is a growing stage and all feedback is helpful. 

No comments:

Post a Comment