7 things that happened after I implemented Standards Based Grading
It has been 8th months since I’ve fully implementing Standards Based Grading (SBG) in my math classroom and, while skeptical at first, I’ve come to realize that my students are achieving more then before. I’ve noticed quite a few changes in not only my thinking but in the overall aspects of my class. The 7 things I have noticed:
- The quality of work has increased. Make no doubt, I still give classwork. So what’s changed? I don’t grade or collect a single piece of it. I do give valuable feedback to students as I walk around the class checking on their work but I have noticed something profound. When you take grades out of the equation of classwork, the quality of work increases. I know it’s hard to believe but it follows the theory in Daniel Pink’s book on motivation, “Drive.” He states that when you make a person’s salary high enough where it no longer becomes a factor in their job, the quality of work increased because the employee never worries about doing work for pay. They do work because they are intrinsically motivated. I find the same to be true with my students. Now that grades are no longer a factor, students don’t fret over earning that grade on each piece of work. They work because they know it’s important. It’s a profound discovery I have seen first hand and one I never would have believed had I not seen it within my own classroom. Here’s an example: (Remember again that I don’t grade this or even collect it.)
- Students have changed their language. Students no longer strive for the grade. They are never saying, “What can I do to get an, ‘A’?” I now here students tell me, “I need to reassess on the standard 7.G.4 because I need help finding the circumference of a circle.” Students know the concepts in which they need to improve upon.
- I was held accountable for knowing my standards. I am a math nerd. I know math quite well and I have always worked with standards. I thought I knew my standards well…and I did but not to the extent I needed to. When writing assessments I had to be flawless in writing questions that met the standards. It helped me to delve into my standards even farther to truly understand them.
- Grading was less subjective. With nothing factored into a grade other than content, I was no longer falsifying the grades I gave. The grade was a reflection of what the student(s) know. I grade all of my summative assessments based solely on the standards and whether or not students have mastered those standards.
- Students look at the feedback. When I put a grade at the top of the paper, students never looked at the feedback I wrote on their work as much as I had hoped. They were fixated on the grade. Once that percent and grade disappeared they started to read the feedback I gave.
- The busy work is gone. I actually feel at times like I have cheated the system that we call, “the game of school” but I no longer have hours upon hours of busy work. No longer do I have homework to grade, collect, record and pass back. It simply has disappeared. I now spend the time I used to spend grading endless amounts of work creating more meaningful lessons, videos and assessments.
- The grades now have meaning. The grades students earn are now a true reflection of what they knew. Simply put… they are now valid.