Revisiting standards-based grading and how it worked this year

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Revisiting standards-based grading and how it worked this year

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Over the years, Math III teacher Heather Sessoms had noticed a problem with watered-down grading, a higher or lower grade based mostly on homework grades.  Students didn’t show true knowledge; when one turned in an assignment, he or she could have copied from a friend five minutes before class, making actual learning difficult to gauge.  

That’s why, at the beginning of this school year, Sessoms implemented Standard-Based Grading, a grading system that only takes into account your quizzes and tests and grades them on a 1-4 scale.  On its surface, the main goal is mastery. You can come in to reassess each individual ‘concept,’ or small subject. This means re-learning and actual improvement in grades. In most classes if you get a bad score, you just move on, but in this system, you can try to fix your mistakes and actually understand.  It also means that your grade shows your true mastery of the knowledge and how hard you worked to relearn.

“Grades that are generated in standards-based grading come from just what the students can show you they know.  I don’t want their grade to come from homework they can copy from their friend, and I don’t want that to water down their grade,”  Sessoms said.

During this year, Sessoms has been trying to merge this system in with the rigid public school system we’re apart of right now, and it hasn’t been easy.  Many changes have been made over the course of the school year, but as with anything new, it gets better and better the longer she tries.

Our goals as teachers is for our students to learn the material, while at the same time holding them responsible for things they’re responsible for.”

— Math III teacher Heather Sessoms

So far, Sessoms has seen a big improvement in understanding from those who take advantage of the reassessments, and she hopes her EOC scores will reflect this change.

“They’re in here with me often, studying, tutoring, and learning material that they otherwise would never even look at for a second time,” Sessoms said.

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