Imagine two students in the same class. Student A is a hard worker. Never misbehaves at school but struggles understanding algebra. His parents work with him every night and his work is done complete and on time - clean and neat. However, he hasn’t successfully mastered the standards for the course. He participates in every extra-credit activity available, including bringing additional supplies to class and attending school events. Based on his effort, behavior, and completion of work, this students ultimately receives a C on his report card.
Student B is a hard worker. She is often tardy to class, completes some of her work, and lacks motivation. She finds herself in occasional trouble due to her attendance and talking out in class. However, algebra comes very easily to her. She is able to successfully answer every question correctly on her assignments and has mastered the standards for this course. However, because of her lack of motivation, attendance, and occasional missing assignment, Student B gets a C on her report card in algebra.
When entering Algebra II in the fall, both students are in the same mathematics class. Both students received the same grade in the previous class. Do both students, however, need the same level of support with the content of the class? Do they both understand algebra in the same way?
What is Standards Referenced Grading (SRG)?
What is standards-based grading?
How does it work? Why is it a better way to assess what kids are learning?
Rationale for SRG:
Accurately and consistently report student achievement
Relates to academic standards and behaviors that promote learning
Grades must be a clear measure of achievement
Behaviors are reported separately
The ultimate form of feedback
Develop efficacy as lifelong learners
Clear, accurate, and meaningful
Scores go up as students learn
Final grades are reflective of mastery
Little penalty for early mistakes
No event can “ruin” their grade
Emotionally safe environment
Increase learning and reassess
Notes from the Monday Minute
Now that we have a basic understanding of what SRG is, let's take a look at an example of a scored piece of math work. For this purpose we've only used one problem to highlight the differences between the scores. Students will have multiple opportunities to show their skills, not just one problem.
Example: 4th grade math standard: "Fluently add and subtract multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm".
Score of 1: This student did not line up their numbers correctly, added the one to two different columns and added a hundred to a ten.
Score of 2: This student has sort of the right idea, but has made some mistakes in their addition. They're on the right track, but not quite proficient yet.
Score of 3: Student added exactly as they were supposed to!
Score of 4: A 4 goes above and beyond the standard. This student has applied their learning about place value and addition to be able to add decimals! We wouldn't expect students to come up with this problem on their own, but students will be given opportunities like this to push their thinking and see what they can do throughout a unit.
One way that Standards Referenced Grading is different than traditional grading is that, rather than averaging out a student's grade over the entire trimester the most recent, consistent level of performance is prioritized. Students who may have struggled at the beginning of a concept when first learning new material can still demonstrate mastery at a 3 or 4 level by the end of the trimester, or even school year, without their initial scores of 1 or 2 being averaged into their mastery score.
In a traditional grading system the entire performance of a student is averaged together. Lower quiz scores from early in the learning process would be averaged together with the higher scores earned later in the content. Because of the averaging of scores, the resulting grade would be lower than the current performance shows.
In Standards Reference Grading the mastery score comes from the most recent, consistent level of performance. A student who struggled with the topic at the beginning is not penalized for figuring it out later in the unit. Their most recent mastery is what is presented on the report card.
Standards Reference Grading also separates work habits / behavior from a student's mastery score. These items are still reported on the report card, just not within the mastery score for the content. Students receive separate scores for these items to give parents and students a better look at the student as a whole.
At Holy Trinity we use our Student Learning Expectations (SLEs) to guide the work habit / behavior portion of our report card. Our SLEs are TITAN: Takes time to pray Imagines the possibilites Thinks about their actions Acquires knowledge Notices the needs of others Students will receive scores on their report card separate from their academic scores on these areas helping to show the whole picture of the student, not just their ability to do math or read well.