Standards Based Grading is all the rage. And you, as a noble teacher on the internet, who has read about the magic might be wondering "I know how to get started, but man I wish I had the support of _______." I can tell you, support is possible, and mass adoption can happen, but it takes time and a visible front man/lady/person. You, oh mighty SBG implementer, can make this happen. No more nodding politely as someone shares the 30 question Chapter Test they wrote. No more cringing when you hear about horrific test averages and students who don't get it from your peers. No more saying "stop complaining and listen to me!" in the back of your head.

  1. Implement SBG by yourself or with a trusted team member, learn the quirks, find the problems, build the assessment bank, and gather samples. Gather TONS of samples.
  2. Share your findings with administraitors, campus support specialists, or whatever non-teacher you feel like will be open to alternative ideas like this. Pretend like you're giving a presentation, have your samples ready, have your gradebook ready, and listen listen listen to whatever feedback they have. Make note of any big questions bullets they throw at you, more than likely someone else will have the same issues. Have supporting literature ready. Steal every bit of Dan's Assessment Guide you might need. Find and have ready other blog posts that ruminate on the subject.
  3. After you give your mini-presentation, present the system to your team. If you have no team or your team is unwilling, find another team of people that will listen (surely one of them is in the midst of Low Test Average Crisis™). Have answers to the big bullet questions you were asked previously. Mention that Non-Teacher X knows about this and had _____ to say. This is where your samples shine, new ideas need material that shows how to make it work and that it does work. SBG is a great abstract concept, but teachers need to see how to make it happen, and you need to be ready for that. Not everyone wants to build something new for scratch, or has the time.
  4. Present your work to your Department Chair or if you can swing it, your Department. Have samples, lots of samples. Have at least a semester worth of successful implementation under your belt. It is at this moment you will become the leader of the movement, and all questions will be directed to you. Remember all the big bullet questions. At this point make sure that list addresses: Student Population, GPA Concerns, Homework, Textbook, Curriculum Coverage, Multiple Choice Tests, "Retesting", Gradebook, Partial Credit, Accuracy, Vocabulary, Parents, Cheating, and the dreaded Skills In Isolation comment. Leave lots of time to answer question. And oh yes, have a big cache of samples.
  5. Do not stress out if your Department doesn't change their ways immediately. Given that a presentation like this will probably happen mid-semester, it's a little tough to expect such a radical switch by January, especially if one of the teams within your department has a pretty good mojo working with their current base of materials and resources.
  6. Be annoying (in a nice way). Don't go away. Bring it up at lunch. At this point start attending different team meetings to discuss their subject-specific issues. Answer their questions, there will be lots.
  7. Continue doing your thing and collecting more data on your implementation of SBG. Be ready to share your classroom procedures at any point in the school year, live data and gradebooks in hand.
  8. If all goes well, people will start to listen and try it out for themselves. They will need your confidence to support them during the first year. It is a tricky thing to implement, especially since this wasn't something they were looking for, you made it sound so interesting they finally caved. Waivering teacher confidence equals student indifference. If you sign up a new member to the SBG team, make sure they believe the message as much as you do, or can convince students to believe in the message. Don't let them slip back to the old way mid-semester. Follow up, help newcomers grade their assessments, help develop rubrics for them to follow when grading, and pop in on their meetings.

It is a long road. I started 18 months ago test driving the program in secret with one other teacher for one semester in Algebra II. We both taught Pre Cal at the same time and operated it the standard way. By March we couldn't believe we continued to put up with the way we were grading Pre Cal. I completed a full year of implementation in Algebra II and Pre Cal last year and got some Math Models to kind of try it. I put on all the meetings I described above. I taught a summer session on the subject for people around the district. And now, 18 months later? My principals know about me and my stickers and fifteen teachers in math and science are giving SBG a try this year.

It can happen on your campus.

AuthorJonathan Claydon