I’ve been following several physics blogs and heard mention of something called Standards Based Grading. According to the posts I’ve been reading it has magical powers and can transform a classroom of disinterested students into highly motivated self-learners. It lightens your workload, brightens your day, and even removes nasty ground-in grass stains from clothes. Perhaps I’m exaggerating a bit, but it crossed my path at a critical juncture in my teaching career. I just finished up a term where far too many students got C’s and B’s and even A’s who didn’t know the first thing about physics. I was tired of a grading system that rewarded students for showing up and punished students for not slogging through every single little problem. I was tired of a grading system that was, well… broke.
SBG to the rescue! What is it, you ask? In a nut shell, it involves a list of the things you want your students to learn by the end of the term, a list of standards. You then proceed to assess the students on each of these standards throughout the term. That’s it. No grading homeworks, worksheets, in-class activities, nada. That’s not to say you can’t make assignments and worksheets available to students, but you aren’t going to grade it. The whole point of these things is so students can practice their skills. For example, one standard might be “student can draw a free-body diagram for an object with multiple forces.” You will assess students throughout the term and if they can’t pass the standard they can try again later, after practicing.
So I’m going to give it a try Fall term in my University Physics I class. We are using the Matter and Interaction textbook, which I love, and I’m really excited about this. I probably didn’t do SBG justice so I recommend checking out the old hands:
An SBG FAQ over at Think Thank Thunk: http://101studiostreet.com/wordpress/?p=673
SBG Gala #5 at Quantum Progress:http://quantumprogress.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/sbg-gala-5-2/
This latest gala was my starting point originally, my looking glass into a whole new world, except in this world, things are right-side-up and sane.