Who Says Standards Based Grading Is Any Better Than Traditional Grading?

Students, Some Teachers Question Change

Who Says Standards Based Grading Is Any Better Than Traditional Grading?

Ally Moses, Contributing Reporter

Standard based grading is a new approach to the normal grading system. SBG, a system that focuses on learning and increasing achievement, has caused a difference in opinion throughout all grade levels and also within teachers at various grade levels.

Traditional grading and standard based grading are two very different ways of grading a student’s completion of work. Traditional grading has a wider range of letter grades, including a plus and minus system behind a letter grade which serves as a halfway point between two grades. A letter grade is often determined by a combination of quizzes, tests, homework, and behavioral aspects. Each type of assignment receives one grade or letter to be put into the gradebook. Students can also revise their work in order to get a higher letter grade, usually up to a 90 percent for most classes.

However, SBG focuses on standards, which are goals that students need to meet in order to receive a one, two, three, or four score on a proficiency scale based on how well they understand or perform on a concept or a task. Teachers in each course determine the learning goals or proficiencies based on the information being taught and how well the student understands it. However, currently there seems to be no set standard as to what equals a 1, 2, 3, or 4. Goals are often different for every class and sometimes even every teacher, which leads to a difference in opinion on whether this grading system is fair or not. Unlike traditional grading, students are expected to go “above and beyond” proficient to get a 4 score.

“I am honestly 50-50 when it comes to whether I am for or against standard based grading, because I think the premise behind mastering skills is awesome but the lack of communication and notoriety, makes parents less attentive and/or interested. I think parents want to know more of how is my kid doing in school versus their actual skills, and of how well they understand the concept,” said Steve Moses, a seventh grade teacher at Excelsior Middle School.

“Standard based grading is supposed to be based on standards and whether or not a student is proficient and understands the concept of what is being taught. But what exactly is proficient? SBG is too subjective, it’s based on writing standards for a skill, but how do I know what a kid’s background is on a certain skill for different subjects?” said Moses.

That is one teacher’s opinion of SBG, but how do students feel?

“I strongly dislike standard based grading. It is harder for kids to get a four or 100%, as we have to go above and beyond in order to receive what would be an A+ in traditional grading,” said Sydney Stephenson, a junior at Linn-Mar.

“It sucks, we study and do all this stuff and end up getting an A. I have to go above and beyond in order to get the A+ despite studying for hours just in order to understand the material. In some classes you have to do additional research and stuff you didn’t even learn in class in order to get a four and most of us are so busy we don’t have time to do that. Also, some teachers make it impossible to get the A+,” said Summer Ainesworth, a junior.

The main goal of standard based grading for the future is to improve student achievement in every classroom. It is shown in research that this way of grading will improve communication, which should also help students learn better through feedback. The overall concept of standard based grading will require frequent parent communication from both the teacher and the student.

“I think letter grades are so much better. I know the letter grades more, the proficiency scale is more complex and it’s hard to explain to adults,” said Linn-Mar freshman Maddie Moses.

The traditional A-F grading sale has been around since the early 20th century. Many people know and understand the traditional grading system. We use our grades to compare ourselves to our peers and explain to our parents how we are doing.